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Full text of "The life and letters of Sir John Everett Millais"

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VOL. I. 














r I ^ H E task of selecting from such a vast mass of material 
JL as has been kindly placed at my disposal by friends 
and relatives has been no easy one, and I venture to hope 
that, so far as I may have exceeded my duty as a biographer, 
the interest of the extraneous matter may, in some measure 
at least, atone for its admission. 

I cannot adequately thank the many friends who have so 
generously helped me with contributions, or in allowing 
me the free use of their pictures for these pages. To 
Messrs. Graves and Son, Thomas Agnew and Sons, 
Arthur Tooth and Sons, Thomas McLean and Sons, 
and the Fine Art Society my special thanks are due for 
liberty to avail myself of their copyrights ; but most of all 
am I indebted to my father-in-law, Mr. P. G. Skipwith, 
for his invaluable assistance in preparing this work for 
the press. 


July, 1899 




The birth of Millais His parents Early days in St. Heliers A mother 
who educates and helps him School a failure The Lemprieres First 
efforts in Art The family move to Dinan The Drum-major's portrait 
Return to St. Heliers Millais goes to London with his mother Sir 
Martin Shee's advice Millais enters Mr. Sass's school, and gains the 
silver medal of the Society of Arts His love of fishing Original 
amusement He enters the Royal Academy Early successes Anecdotes 
of the poet Rogers William Wordsworth Oxford's attempt on the 
Queen's life Millais as an Academy student General Arthur Lempriere 
on Millais as a boy Poem on students' life Sergeant Thomas First 
visit to Oxford Mr. Wyatt Mr. Drury " Cymon and Iphigenia"- 
" Grandfather and Child" . . . i 


First meeting of Hunt and Millais The Pedantry of Art Hunt admitted 
to the R.A. They work together in Millais' studio Reciprocal relief 
The birth of Pre-Raphaelitism The name chosen The meeting of 
Hunt and D. G. Rossetti First gathering of the Brotherhood The 
so-called influence of Rossetti Millais explains The critics at sea 
D. G. Rossetti Ruskin Max Nordau The aims of Pre-Raphaelitism 
Cyclographic Club Madox Brown "The Germ" Millais' story . . 43 


"Lorenzo and Isabella" A prime joke "Christ in the home of His 
parents " The onslaught of the critics Charles Dickens unfavourable 
Millais at work The newspapers send him to Australia The P.R.B. 
draw each other for Woolner The bricklayer's opinion The elusive 
nugget " Ferdinand lured by Ariel" The ultra-cautious dealer Millais 
at the theatre painting portraits His sale of " Ferdinand" Mr. Stephens 
tells of his sittings for "Ferdinand's" head Mr. and Mrs. Thomas 
Combe Their kindness to Millais Millais' letter to the Combes His 
life in London The Collins family Letters about "The Woodman's 
Daughter" and "The Flood' 1 "Mariana" An obliging mouse "The 
Woodman's Daughter" William Millais on the picture The artist's 
devotion to truth Ruskin on the Pre-Raphaelites He champions their 
cause His unreliability as a critic . . . . 69 




Millais commences^" Ophelia" Holman Hunt, Charles Collins, William 
and John Millais paint at Worcester Park Farm Further letters to the 
Combes Millais thinks of going to the East Commencement of diary 
and "The Huguenot" Hunt at work on "The Light of the World" 
and "The Hireling Shepherd" Collins' last picture Millais' idea for 
"The Huguenot" He argues it out with Hunt Meets an old sweetheart 

Returns to Gower Street Miss Siddal's sufferings as model for 
"Ophelia" Success of "Ophelia" Arthur Hughes and Millais Critics 
of 1852 Woman in Art General Lempriere on his sittings for "The 
Huguenot'' Miss Ryan Miller, of Preston Letters from Gower Street 1 15 



The Volunteer movement Reminiscences of Turner Meeting with 
Thackeray Millais proposes to paint "Romeo and Juliet" Goes to 
"George Inn" at Hayes Begins painting "The Proscribed Royalist "- 
Arthur Hughes on his sittings Millais in the hunting field "The Order 
of Release " Models for this picture Funeral of the Duke of Wellington 
Amusing letter to Mr. Hodgkinson Millais' first expedition to Scotland 
With the Ruskins to Northumberland and thence to Callander Their 
life in the North Discussion on architecture Dr. Acland The Free 
Kirk in 1852 Meeting with Gambart and Rosa Bonheur Millais' comic 
sketch-book He is slighted by the Academy Foreboding on the 
election day He is made an A. R. A. . . . . . 152 



End of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Walter Deverell His illness and 
death Holman Hunt in the East Letters from him "The Scapegoat" 

"The Blind Girl" and " L'Enfant du Regiment" Winchelsea 
Thackeray writes whilst Millais paints An eccentric vicar Success of 
"The Blind Girl" Ruskin's description of it John Luard Millais in 
Scotland with Halliday, Luard, and Charles Collins Paris Exhibition of 
1855 The English school at last recognised How "The Rescue" came 
to be painted Letters from Dickens Models for "The Rescue" and 
criticisms on it Appreciation by Thomas Spencer Baynes Millais loses 
his temper and speaks out Beneficial result Firemen at work Letters 
from William Allingham Frederick Leighton . ... 222 



Millais' affection for Leech His first top-boots "Mr. Tom Noddy "- 
Millais introduces "Mr. Briggs" to the delight of salmon fishing The 
Duke of Athol and Leech Letters from Leech- The ghost of Cowdray 
Hall Death of Leech His funeral The pension for Leech's family 
Letter from Charles Dickens Thackeray The littleness of earthly fame 
Wilkie Collins True origin of The Woman in White Anthony 
Trollope Letters from him . . . ... 261 




Millais' marriage Life in Scotland First visitors A poaching keeper 
"Peace Concluded" "Autumn Leaves" Millais' life in chambers 
Serious war with the critics He is attacked on all sides The Times 
tramples upon him The public support him Marochetti Millais on 
Press criticism Charles Reade Birth of a son "Pot-pourri" The 
advantages of being punctual "Sir Isumbras" received with abuse 
Sandys' clever skit Sale of "Sir Isumbras" Letters from Charles 
Reade "Escape of the Heretic" "The Crusader's Return" "The 
Vale of Rest" The artist's difficulties overcome Anecdotes of "The 
Vale of Rest "and "The Love of James I." . . . 287 


The struggle of 1859 Millais seriously feels the attacks made upon him, 
but determines to fight Insulted at every turn Origin of " The Vale of 
Rest" The fight for independence "The Black Brunswicker" Millais 
describes it Dickens' daughter sits for the lady Mrs. Perugini describes 
her sittings Faint praise from the Press Great success of the picture 
Holman Hunt likewise successful Millais' black-and-white work Letters 
to his wife Lady Waterford . . . . . . 335 



A holiday in Sutherlandshire "The Eve of St. Agnes" Comfortless 
surroundings Death of Thackeray His funeral " My First Sermon " 
Pictures of 1863 Paints Tom Taylor's son Letter from Tom Taylor 
" Esther " Gordon's yellow jacket " The Romans Leaving Britain " 
Letter from Anne Thackeray Ritchie "Waking" In Scotland with 
Sir William Harcourt and Mr. Reginald Cholmondeley Meeting with 
Dr. Livingstone Livingstone in pursuit of salmon Millais goes abroad 
with his wife, Sir William Harcourt, and Sir Henry Layard He buys 
Michael Angelo's " Leda and the Swan " Memorable evening at " Villa 
Spence" Adelina Patti as a dancer Makes the acquaintance of Liszt 
They travel with Mario " Waking " The Callander shootings Amusing 
Letter from Sir William Harcourt Letter to William Fenn A deer 
drive in Glen Artney . . . . . . 3^7 


A great friendship, and a spur to noble ambition Cairo in 1854 The 
donkey and the buffalo A human parallel The Jewish model, a shy 
bird The difficulties and dangers of life in and around Jerusalem 
in 1854 Adventure at the Brook Kerith Reflections on life Millais 
must put forth all his strength A final tribute . ... 402 





Three historic gatherings The parties at Strawberry Hill Millais' personal 
friends Letters from D'Epine", Luder Barnay, and Jan van Beers 
Mrs. Jopling Rowe's recollections of Millais O'Neil, painter and poet 
Fred Walker Professor Owen Robert Browning Browning on the 
art of poetry Visit to Marochetti . . . . 417 



SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS, Bart., P.R.A. (from the autograph portrait in 

the Uffizzi Gallery) ..... Frontispiece 

L'EXFANT DU REGIMENT ... To face page 240 

THE VALE OF REST .... ,, 332 

THE KNIGHT ERRANT .... ,, 390 



Captain Edward Millais. 1760 . . . ... 2 

John William Millais . . . . ... 3 

John Evamy . . . . . ... 4 

Mary Millais (Millais' mother) . . . ... 5 

Shakespearian Character . . . . ... 8 

Hogarthian Characters in a Witness-box . . ... 9 

Mele"e in a Banqueting-hall . . . . . . . 10 

Scene from " Peveril of the Peak" . . . . . . u 

Portrait of an Old Gentleman . . . . . . 13 

Millais, by John Phillip, R.A. . . . . ... 15 

Hunting Scene i . . . .. . . . 17 

Lovers under a Tree . . . ... 19 

Sketches made at Lord's . . . . ... 22 

The Benjamites Seizing their Brides . . . ... 23 

Cupid Crowned with Flowers . . . . 24 

Mary Hodgkinson . , . . . .- . . 26 

Hatfield House . . . . . ... 29 

View from Millais' Home, near St. Heliers . . ... 30 

Cover of Millais' Book on Armour. 1845 . . . . . 31 

A Page from Millais' Book on Armour . . . ... 32 

A Page from Millais' Book on Armour . . . 33 

Photograph of the first Cheque received by Millais . . 35 

Emily Millais (afterwards Mrs. Wallack) . . ... 36 

Title-page of a Book of Poems . . . 37 

Pizarro Seizing the Inca of Peru . . . ... 39 

Mr. Drury and Millais take the Air ; . . ... 41 

Study of an Actor . . ' . ... 42 

Childhood . . . . ... 44 

Youth . .... 44 

Manhood . . . . ... 45 

Age . . . 45 

Cynion and Iphigenia . ... 47 

Sketch for Pre-Raphaelite Etching . . . .' . . 51 



Mr. Wyatt and his Grandchild . . . 53 

Pre-Raphaelite Sketch . . . . ... 58 

Canterbury Pilgrims . . . . ... 59 

The Disentombment of Queen Matilda . . ... 63 

Drawing for The Germ . . . . ... 65 

Pencil-drawing- for Etching, intended to have been used in The Germ . . 67 

Head of D. G. Rossetti . . . ... 70 

Lorenzo and Isabella . . . , . . . . 71 

Original design for " Christ in the House of His Parents" . 76 

Design for "Christ in the House of His Parents" . . 77 

Christ in the House of His Parents . . . ... 79 

First sketch for " Ferdinand Lured by Ariel " . . ... 84 

Ferdinand Lured by Ariel . . . . ... 85 

Pencil design for "The Woodman's Daughter" . . ... 92 

Design for a picture, "The Deluge" . . . ... 95 

Sketch for "Mariana" . . . . ... 104 

Sketches for " Mariana " and " The Return of the Dove " . . . 105 

Mariana . . . . ... 107 

The Woodman's Daughter . . . . ... 113 

Ophelia . . . . . . 117 

Design for a picture of " Romeo and Juliet " . . ... 120 

The Last Scene, " Romeo and Juliet " . . . . 121 

The Huguenot. First idea . . . . ... 130 

The Huguenot. Second idea . . . . 131 

The Huguenot. Third idea. . . . . ... 136 

The Huguenot. Fourth idea . . . . . 137 

The Huguenot. Fifth idea . . . . ... 138 

The Huguenot . . . . . ... 139 

The Race-meeting . . . . . ... 153 

Study for " The Royalist " . . . . ... 156 

Millais on the way to paint " The Royalist." By W. Millais . . . 157 

Millais at Dinner. By W. Millais . . . . . . 158 

Millais painting the background of " The Royalist " . ... 160 

Dinner at "The George Inn," Hayes. By W. Millais . ... 161 

" Millais' Oak," Hayes, Kent . . . ... 166 

Tourists at the Inn . . . . . ... 167 

Sketch for " The Order of Release" . . . ... 169 

Further sketch for " The Order of Release " . . ... 170 

The Royalist . . . . . ... 173 

Head of a Girl . . . . . ... 175 

Robert Bruce and the Spider . . . . ... 176 

Black Agnes dusting Dunbar Castle . . . . 177 

Imitations of Velasquez . . . . ... 179 

The Order of Release . . . . ... 181 

Lord James Douglas provides for the Royal Household . . 183 

Bruce at the Siege of Acre . . . . ... 184 

Enter Lord and Lady Fiddledidee . . . . . . 185 

Accepted . . . . . ... 187 

The Blind Man . . . . . ... 193 

Crossing the Border. By W. Millais . . . . 195 

Close Quarters . . . . . ... 196 

The Tourist's Highland Reel . . . . ... 197 

Fishing in Loch Achray . . . . ... 198 



The Romans Leaving- Britain. Line and Sepia drawing- . . . . 199 

Sir Thomas Acland . . . .. . .- 202 

A Wet Day's Pastime . . . . '. 203 

Design for a Gothic Window . . . . ... 204 

William Millais at Work . . . . ... 205 

The Idle and the Industrious Painter . . . ... 206 

The Dying- Man . . . . . ... 207 

Kirk . . . . . ... 210 

The Best Day's Sketching- . . . . ... 211 

The Countess as Barber . . . . ...212 

Virtue and Vice . . . . . ... 213 

Wayside Refreshment . . . . . . . 215 

Sir Thomas Acland assists a certain Lady . . . .* . 216 

A certain Lady Painting- . . . . . . . 217 

Away-ye-ga . . . . . . . . 218 

Euphemia Chalmers Gray . . . . .- . . 219 

Waiting- . . . . . ... 223, 

Retribution . . . . .... 227 

Prince Charlie in a Hig-hland Farmhouse . . . , . 229 

The Prisoner's Wife . . . . ..>'.. 231 

The Ghost . . . ... . , 233 

Mike in Shirt plying- his Needle . . . .... 237 

The Start to Aytoun . . . . ... 238 

Our kind Host enters in his Dressing-gown . . . . . 239 

Catastrophes during Day's Sport . . .' ... 240 

How instantly the A.R.A. outwalked his Companion . ... 241 

How the Representative of R.A. was embarrassed with Straps . . . 242 

How we took a Dog--cart . . . . ... 243. 

The Newly-painted Door . . . . ... 244 

How the Wind distressed the Two Travellers . . ... 246- 

How C. C. gave out . . . . - f 247 

Long- John enters into Conversation . . . ... 248 

Ho\v Long- John makes another Long John partake of "overproof" Whiskey . 2^0 

How C. C. forgot himself and Craves for Salmon-fishing- . ... 2^1 

How on the top of the Coach the Weather was unfavourable . . . 252 

How we Warmed Ourselves at the Steamer Stove . ... 253 

St. Agnes . . . 255 

Rejected . . ,. . ... 258 

John Leech. Pencil sketch . . '. . . . . 262 

John Leech . . . . . . - . . 263 

Millais Hunting-. By Leech . . .' . ( . 266 

Millais Fishing-. By Leech . . . , . :. . 267 

The Duke of Wellington. By Leech . . . ... 271 

Part of a Letter from Leech to Millais . . '.{ ... 273. 

Wilkie Collins . . . . ." ... 279 

Euphemia Chalmers Gray (afterwards Lady Millais). Water-colour . . 286 

Bell in Winterton Church. By John Luard . . . 288 

Winterton Church Bells. By John Luard . . ... 289 

Studies for " Edward Gray " . . . ... 292 

Alice Gray . . . . . ... 293 

Study for Tennyson Illustrations . . . ... 298 

Study for Tennyson Illustrations . . . ... 299 

The Rescue . . . . . ... 301 



Sketch for Tennyson Illustrations . . . ... 304 

Sketch for St. Agnes . . . . ... 305 

The Blind Girl . . . . . ... 307 

Roswell . . . . . ... 309 

First sketch for " Peace Concluded " . - . . . . . 310 

Sketch for " The Crusaders " . . . . . 311 

First sketch for " Sir Isumbras " . , . . . . 312 

Sir Isumbras ~. . . . . ... 315 

Mother and Child . . . . . . . 317 

Study of a Child . . . . . ... 318 

Sketch for Tennyson Illustrations . . . ... 320 

Skit on " Sir Isumbras." By Fred. Sandys . . . . . 321 

Apple Blossoms . . . . . . . . 325 

Sketch for " Ruth " . . . . . ... 327 

Sketch for Illustration .* . . ... . . 330 

Sketch for Illustration . . . . ... 331 

Sophia Gray . . . . . . . . 334 

The Bride . . . . . ... 337 

Sketch for " The Black Brunswicker " . . . . . . 339 

Sketch for " The Black Brunswicker " . . . . . 341 

Sketch of Miss Kate Dickens . . . ... 346 

Sketch of Miss Kate Dickens . . . ... 347 

The Black Brunswicker . . . . ... 351 

Old Wall of Balhousie Castle, Perth . . . . 361 

Design for "The Ransom" . . . . ... 364 

"Swallow! Swallow!" . . . . ... 369 

Sketch for " The Eve of St. Ag-nes " . . . ... 373 

The Eve of St. Agnes . . . . ... 375 

My Second Sermon . . . . . ... 380 

Leisure Hours . . . . . ... 381 

The Romans leaving Britain . . . . ... 387 

Sleeping , . 393 

Waking . , . / . . . . . . 399 

The Parable of the Sower . . . . ... 403 

Sketch for " The Parable of the Good Samaritan " . ... 405 

The Parable of the Good Samaritan . . . ... 406 

The Evil One Sowing Tares . . . . ... 407 

The Parable of the Prodigal Son . . . ... 409 

The Parable of the Unjust Judge . . . . . . 411 

Greenwich Pensioners at the Tomb of Nelson . . . 413 

Sketches for " The Crown of Love " . . . ... 418 

The Minuet . . . . . . . 419 

The Widow's Mite . . . . . ... 425 

Studies of Frogs . . ..... 427 

The Gambler's Wife . . . . . ... 431 

Mrs. Heugh . . . . . ... 437 

Mrs. Jopling . . . . . . . . 441 





The birth of Millais His parents Early days in St. Heliers A mother who 
educates and helps him School a failure The Lemprieres First efforts in 
Art The family move to Dinan The Drum-major's portrait Return to 
St. Heliers Millais goes to London with his mother Sir Martin Shee's 
advice Millais enters Mr. Sass' school, and gains the silver medal of the 
Society of Arts His love of fishing Original amusement He enters the 
Royal Academy Early successes Anecdotes of the poet Rogers William 
Wordsworth Oxford's attempt on the Queen's life Millais as an Academy 
student General Arthur Lempriere on Millais as a boy Poem on students' 
life Sergeant Thomas First visit to Oxford Mr. Wyatt Mr. Drury 
" Cymon and Iphigenia" "Grandfather and Child." 

IT was at Southampton on the 8th of June, 1829, that the 
late Sir J. E. Millais made his first appearance in the 
world as the youngest son of Mr. John William Millais, 
the descendant of an old Norman family resident in Jersey, 
where for many years he held a commission in the Island 
Militia. There, according to local tradition, John William 
Millais and his ancestors had been settled ever since the 
time of the Conquest. He was a man of fine presence and 
undeniable talent, being not only a very fair artist but an 
excellent musician, with command of four or five different 
instruments. But with all his shifts he was a man of no 


ambition save where his children were concerned, and desired 
nothing more than the life he led as a quiet country gentle- 
man. My uncle, William Millais, describes him as a typical 
old troubadour, who won all hearts by his good looks and 
charming manners, and was known in his younger days as 
the handsomest man in the island. 

i. i 



When quite a young man he chanced to meet an English- 
woman of gentle birth and great natural wit and cleverness, 
whose maiden name was Evamy, but who was then the 
widow of a Mr. Hodgkinson ; and, falling in love with each 

other at first sight, they soon 
afterwards married. 

Mrs. Hodgkinson had two 
sons by her first husband- 
Henry, who lived a quiet life, 
and recently left to the nation 
two of my father's best works ; 
and Clement, who greatly dis- 
tinguished himself as an explorer 
in the wilds of Australia. In 
the old days Clement was the 
principal A.D.C. of Sir Thomas 
Mitchell, and himself discovered 
several gold-fields in Northern 

My grandparents, John \Yilliam 
and Emily Mary Millais, at first 
settled at " Le Quaihouse," just 
out of St. Heliers, where their 
daughter Emily Mary was born ; but later on they re- 
moved to Southampton, where my uncle William Henry, 
and afterwards my father, were added to the family. They 
presently, however, returned to Jersey, where, at the age 
of four years, my father's inborn love of Natural History 
a love that lasted his lifetime found means of develop- 
ment. At St. Heliers some choice sand-eels offered an easy 
capture. The rocks too abounded with novelties in the shape 
of " slow, sly things with circumspective eyes " ; and at the 
pier-head no end of little fish were waiting to be caught. 
Here, then, was Elysium to the young naturalist. To one 
or other of these places he sped away whenever he could 
escape from parental control, regardless of the admonitions 
of his mother, whose anxiety on these occasions was hardly 
compensated by the treasures of the beach with which he 
stocked all the baths and basins of the household, or by the 
advance in learning he displayed in naming correctly every- 
thing in his collection. 

There too, at St. Heliers, his taste for drawing began 
to show itself. Encouraged by his mother, who quickly 



From a miniature 


discerned the boy's special gift, he devoted much of his time 
to sketching, and was never more happy than when his 
pencil was thus engaged. Birds and butterflies proved a 
great attraction, but it mattered little to him what was the 
object so long as he could express it on paper. Draw he 
must, and did at every spare moment. 

In his maternal grandfather, John Evamy a dear old 
man whom he greatly admired, mainly because of his skill 
as a fisherman he found a delightful companion ; and one 

In fancy dress. Circ. 1870 

of his earliest sketches, done in pencil at eight years of age, 
gives an excellent idea of this old gentleman engrossed in 
his favourite pursuit. 

But Millais' truest and most helpful friend was his mother, 
whose love and foresight did so much to advance his aims 


and ambition, putting him in the right path from the very 
outset. She herself undertook the greater part of his educa- 
tion, and, being more gifted than most women, grounded him 
in history, poetry, literature, etc., knowledge of costume and 
armour, all of which was of the greatest use to him in his 
career ; indeed, my father used often to say to us in after 
years, " I owe everything to my mother." 



One attempt was made to send him to school, but it ended 
in miserable iailure. Throughout his life restrictions of any 
sort were hateful to him what he would not do for love he 
would not do at all so when, after two days at school, the 
master tried to thrash him for disobedience, the boy turned 
and bit his hand severely a misdemeanour for which he was 

Drawn from life at the age of eight 

immediately expelled. A happy day this for him, for his 
mother then resumed her work of tuition, and her method 
of teaching, in opposition to that of the old dry-as-dust 
schools, led the child to love his lessons instead of hating 

My uncle William made an excellent water-colour portrait 
of his mother, which I am enabled to give here. The reader 
will see at a glance her strong resemblance to her boy John 
Everett, presenting the same clever, determined mouth, and 

From a water-colour by William Millais, executed about the year 1869 

i8 35 ] EARLY DAYS 7 

the same observant eyes. Nor did the resemblance end here, 
for she had also the same great love of painting and music. 

Others beside his mother very soon began to see that little 
John Everett possessed real genius, not mere ordinary talent; 
and one of his uncles was so much impressed with this idea 
that he used frequently to say to his children, " Mark my 
words, that boy will be a very great man some day, if he 

My father never forgot the good friends of his early days 
in jersev, but cherished a lasting" affection and regard for 

J J ' O O 

them. Amongst those most anxious to help in the early 
cultivation of his talent was a charming family named 
Lempriere, then resident in the island. Philip Raoul 
Lempriere, the head of the house and Seigneur of Roselle 
Manor, was a man whose personality made itself felt by 
everyone with whom he came into contact, his strikingly 
handsome appearance being enhanced by the dignity and 
kindliness of his manner ; and the same might be said in 
degree of every member of his family. To know them 
intimately was an education in itself; and, happily for my 
father, they took a great fancy to him, making him ever 
welcome at the house. There, then, he spent much of his 
time, and, as I have heard him say, learned unconsciously 
to appreciate the beauties of Nature and Art. General 
Lempriere, one of the grandsons of the Seigneur, I may 
add, figures as "the Huguenot" in the famous picture of 
that name, painted in 1852. 

Roselle, in a word, proved an endless source of interest 
and amusement to the juvenile artist. He could fish when 
he liked in ponds well stocked with perch and tench, and in 
the park was a fine herd of fallow deer, in which he took 
great delight. A drawing of his perhaps his best at that 
date represents the tragic end of one of those beautiful 
creatures that he happened to witness. The circumstance 
impressed him deeply and, as he often remarked in after 
life, aroused in him the spirit of the chase, even in those 
early days and amidst such calm surroundings. 

My father's cousin, Miss Benest a wonderful old lady 
of eighty writes : " When he was only four he was con- 
tinually at work with pencil and paper, and generally lay 
on the floor covering sheets with all sorts of figures." 
She also mentions, as significant of the frank and open 
mind and the zeal for truth that he retained to the end of 




his days, that "when he did anything on a larger scale he 
used to come to my father, throwing his arms round his 
neck in his affectionate manner, saying, ' Uncle, you do not 
always praise me as the others do ; you show me the faults! ' 
His brother William was exceedingly clever, but without 


Original drawing by Millais at the age of yj years 

the same application and industry. As a young man he 
possessed a remarkably fine tenor voice, and a good tenor 
being as rare in those days as it is now, Mario, after hearing 
him sing, urged him strongly to go on the stage, saying he 
would make his fortune. But this was far from his idea of a 
happy life. He had no ambition to walk the boards, but 
sang because he loved it, and painted for the same reason, 


becoming ultimately well known as a water-colour landscape 
artist. His unselfish admiration for my father knew no 
bounds ; he was always helping and taking care of his 
younger and more delicate brother, and did much by his 
cheery optimism and consummate tact to alleviate the hard 
knocks and petty worries that assailed the young painter 
whilst struggling to make a name. 

In 1835 the family removed to Dinan, in Brittany, where 
a new r interest awaited the budding artist, then in his seventh 


Original study of expression. 
The writing on the drawing is that of the artist's mother. 

year. The poetry of the place, as expressed in its fine 
mediaeval architecture and interpreted by a loving mother, 
took a great hold upon his imagination, setting his pencil to 
work at once ; but joy of joys to the juvenile mind were 
the gorgeous uniforms of the French officers stationed in 
the neighbourhood. Of this period William Millais sends 
me some interesting notes. He says : " I well remember the 
time we spent together at Dinan, where our parents resided 
for two years. We were little boys and quite inseparable, 
he six years old and I two years his senior. Our greatest 
delight was to watch the entry of regiments as they passed 




through the town to and from Brest, and these occasions 
were of frequent occurrence. The roll-call generally took 
place in the Place aux Chaines, and each soldier on being 
disbanded was presented with a loaf of black bread, which 
he stuck on the point of his bayonet and then shouldered 
his rifle. We usually sat under the tilleuls of the Place 
du Guesclin, on a bench overlooking the soldiers and away 
from the crowd. On one occasion we noticed an enormous 
tambour-majeur, literally burnished with gold trappings, wear- 
ing a tall bear-skin and flourishing a huge gold-headed cane, 


to the delight of a lot of little gamins. Jack at once pro- 
duced his sketch-book and pencil, and proceeded to jot down 
the giant into his book. Whilst this was going on we were 
not aware that two officers were silently creeping towards us, 
and we were quite awed when they suddenly uttered loud 
ejaculations of astonishment at what they had seen, for they 
had evidently been witnesses of the last touch made upon 
the drum-major. They patted the little artist on the back, 
gave him some money, and asked me where we lived. Our 
house was only a stone's-throw off, so we took them up into 
the drawing-room, and they talked for some time with my 
father and mother, urging them most seriously to send the 
child at once to Paris, to be educated in the Arts. 



1 1 

"The officers took the sketch back to barracks with them, 
and showed it in the mess to their brothers in arms. None 
of them could believe that it was the work of a boy of six, 
so bets were taken all round ; and one of them went to fetch 
little Millais, to prove their words. In fear and trembling he 
came, and soon showed that he really had done the drawing 
by making, then and there, a still more excellent sketch of 
the colonel smoking a cigar. Those who lost had to give the 
others a dinner." 

This is the most elaborate work of Millais' early years 

Leaving Dinan in 1837, the family again went back to 
St. Heliers for two or three years, where Millais received 
his first instructions in art from a Mr. Bessel, the best 
drawing- master in the island. Art was not taught then as 
it is now, so the boy's originality was curbed for the while 
by having to copy Julien's life-sized heads. In a very short 
time, however, the drawing-master told his parents that he 
could teach their boy nothing more ; the spontaneity of his 
work was so marked that it was a sin to restrain it, and that 
they ought to take him at once to London and give him the 
very best tuition to be had there. To this excellent counsel 
was added that of the Lemprieres and Sir Hillgrove-Turner, 


then governor of the island. Next year, therefore, they 
started for London armed with an introduction to Sir Martin 
Archer Shee, P.R.A., and coaching from Southampton they 
fell in with Mr. Paxton (afterwards Sir Joseph Paxton), of 
whom William Millais writes : "During the journey Mr. 
Paxton fell asleep, and Jack at once went for him and got 
him into his book. Just as he had finished the sketch Paxton 
awoke, and, seeing what had been done, was so astonished 
that he entered into conversation with my mother, which 
resulted in a letter of introduction to the President of the 
Society of Arts, Adelphi, where my brother afterwards 

Their first visit in London was naturally to Sir Martin 
Archer Shee, and this is what they heard from him the 
moment they explained the object of their call : " Better 
make him a chimney-sweep than an artist ! " But Sir Martin 
had not then seen the boy's drawings. When these were 
produced he opened his eyes in astonishment, and could 
hardly believe that they were the production of so childish a 
hand. At last his doubts were set at rest by little Millais 
sitting down and drawing the Fight of Hector and Achilles ; 
and then with equal emphasis he recalled his first remark, 
and declared that it was the plain duty of the parents to fit 
the boy for the vocation for which Nature had evidently 
intended him. 

That settled the matter. To the lad's great delight leave 
was obtained for him to sketch in the British Museum, where 
for several hours a day he diligently drew from the cast ; and 
in the winter of 1838-39 a vacancy was found for him in 
the best Art academy of the time a preparatory school at 
Bloomsbury, kept by an old gentleman named Henry Sass, 
a portrait painter of repute, but whose works had failed to 
catch the fancy of the public. Several of Millais' school- 
fellows there are still living, and remember him as a small, 
delicate-looking boy, with a holland blouse and belt and a 
turn-down collar. Here he was in his element, drawing and 
painting most of the day, and spending all the time he could 
spare in outdoor pursuits. 

At Mr. Sass', as at most of the schools of that day, a 
good deal of bullying went on, and one of the students (a 
big, hulking, lazy fellow, whose name I suppress for reasons 
which will presently appear) took a special delight in making 
the boy's life a burden to him. This state of things reached 

1 839] 


a climax when, at the age of nine, young Millais gained the 
silver medal of the Society of Arts, for which this youth had 
also competed. The day following the presentation Millais 
turned up as usual at Mr. Sass', and after the morning's work 
was over, H. (the bully), with the help of two other small 
boys whom he had compelled to remain, hung him head 



Drawn at the age of nine 

downwards out of the window, tying his legs up to the iron 
of the window-guards with scarves and strings. There he 
hung over the street in a position which shortly made him 
unconscious, and the end might have been fatal had not 
some passers-by, seeing the position of the child, rung the 


door-bell and secured his immediate release. Almost imme- 
diately after this H. left the school possibly to avoid expul- 
sion and failing as an artist, but being strong and of good 
physique, he became a professional model, and, curiously 
enough, in after years sat to my father for several of his 
pictures. Eventually, however, he took to drink and came 
to a miserable end, leaving a wife and several children abso- 
lutely destitute. 

Of the occasion on which Millais received his first medal, 
William Millais, who was present, says : " I shall never 
forget the Prize-day at the Society of Arts when my brother 
had won the silver medal for a large drawing of ' The Battle 
of Bannockburn.' He was then between nine and ten years 
of age, and the dress the little fellow wore is vividly before 
me as I write. He had on a white plaid tunic, with black 
belt and buckle ; short white frilled trousers, showing bare 
legs, with white socks and patent leather shoes; a large w r hite 
frilled collar, a bright necktie, and his hair in golden curls. 

"When the Secretary, Mr. Cocking, called out 'Mr. John 
Everett Millais,' the little lad walked up unseen by his 
Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, who was giving the 
prizes, and stood at his raised desk. After a time the Duke 
observed that ' the gentleman was a long time coming up,' 
to which the Secretary replied, 'He is here, your Royal 
Highness.' The Duke then stood up and saw the boy, and, 
giving him his stool to stand upon, the pretty little golden 
head appeared above the desk. 

" Unfortunately the Duke, being weak as to his eyesight, 
could make nothing of the drawing when it was held up to 
him, in spite of trying various glasses ; but he was assured 
that it was a marvellous performance. He patted my 
brother's head and wished him every success in his profes- 
sion, at the same time kindly begging him to remember that 
if at any time he could be of service to him he must not 
hesitate to write and say so. It so happened that Jack did 
avail himself of this kind offer. We had been in the habit 
of fishing every year in the Serpentine and Round Pond by 
means of tickets given to us by Sir Frederick Pollock, then 
Chief Baron ; but a day came when this permission was 
withheld from everyone, and then my brother wrote to the 
Duke's private secretary, and we were again allowed to fish 

"In those days the Round Pond at Kensington was a 





favourite resort of ours. It was not then, as we see it now, 
arranged in a circle, and tricked out with all the finery of a 
London lake. The shores were fringed with flags and 
rushes, and here and there were little bays with water-lilies. 
There was plenty of honest English mud too, in which the 
juvenile angler could wade to his heart's content, and had 
to do so in order to get his line clear of the surrounding 
reeds. \Ve used to tramp to and from the neighbourhood of 
Bedford Square, buying our fresh bait at the " Golden Perch," 
in Oxford Street, on the way. We were keen sportsmen, 


and probably the pleasure we took in it was not lessened by 
the envy of other little boys to w T hom the privilege was 
denied. As the result of these expeditions many fine carp, 
perch, and roach w r ere captured at least they appeared so 
to us in those early days." 

My uncle goes on to tell of their home life and the amuse- 
ments in which he and his brother indulged. They were 
fond of "playing at National Galleries." 

''In 1838-39 we were living in Charlotte Street, Fitzroy 
Square. I went to a private tutor in the neighbourhood, 
but my brother never went to school at all. He was very 
delicate as a child, and was still being entirely educated by 
my mother, who was an exceptionally clever woman and a 
great reader. 

I. 2 


" We were both of us mad upon Art, and we knew every 
picture in the National Gallery by heart. In our leisure 
moments we resolved to start a National Gallery of our own, 
and we worked daily upon pictures for it. I generally 
undertook the landscape department, and coined no end 
of Hoppners, Ruysdaels, Turners, etc., whilst the Titians. 
Rubens, Paul Veroneses, Correggios, and Rembrandts fell 
to my brother's share. I made all the frames out of tinsel 
off crackers, and we varnished our specimens to give them 
the appearance of works in oil. 

" The pictures varied in size from a visiting-card to a large 
envelope. We took off the lid of a large deal box, and pre- 
pared the three sides to receive our precious works. There 
was a dado, a carpet, and seats, and to imitate the real 
Gallery a curtain ran across the opening. 

' What joy it was to us when we thought we had done 
something wonderful ! I remember how we gloated over our 
Cuyp ; a Rembrandt too was my brother's masterpiece, and 
the use of burnt lucifer matches in the darker parts was most 
effective, and certainly original. When anyone called to see 
us it was our greatest pride to exhibit our National Gallery." 

At the age of ten Millais was admitted a student of 
the Royal Academy, the youngest student who ever found 
entrance within its walls, and during his six years there he 
carried off in turn every honour the Academy had to bestow. 
At thirteen he won a medal for a drawing from the antique, 
at fourteen he began to paint, and at seventeen, after taking 
the "gold medal" for an oil painting called "The Benjamites 
Seizing their Brides," he contributed to the annual exhibition 
a canvas which was placed by a French critic on a level with 
the best historical work of the year. It was the picture of 
" Pizarro Seizing the Inca of Peru," and was exhibited some 
few years ago in the galleries at South Kensington, where it 
attracted marked attention as the production of so young an 

At the Academy, where he was well treated and became a 
general favourite, they nicknamed him " The Child," a name 
that stuck to him for the rest of his life at the Garrick Club. 
He worked unceasingly, and was universally recognised as a 

* William Millais says: "James Wallack, the celebrated comedian, whose 
portrait Sir Charles Eastlake, P.R.A., painted in ' The Brigand,' and who afterwards 
married my sister, was the model for ' Pizarro.' My father was the priest, and also 
sat for other figures in the picture." 

i8 4 5] 


youthful genius from whom great things were to be expected; 
but, as the smallest and youngest member of the community, 
he had to "fag," for all that, and was generally told off to 
fetch pies and stout for his fellow-students whilst they were 
at work.* 

When he received the gold medal of the Royal Academy 
many famous men took notice of him, and notably Rogers, 
the poet, whose brilliant breakfast-parties are now matters of 

LOVE SCENE. Water-colour. 1840 

history. All the literary lions of the day were to be met 
there, and at that time things were very different from what 
they are now. Young men listened respectfully, as they were 
taught to do, when older and wiser men held forth. Rogers, 
I have heard my father say, would speak learnedly on some 
subject for perhaps five minutes, and then, after a pause, 
would say : " Now, Mr. Macaulay, kindly favour us with 

* " I was told off," said Millais, " by the other students to obtain their lunch 
for them. I had to collect 40 or 50 pence from my companions, and go with that 
hoard to a neighbouring baker's and purchase the same number of buns. It 
generally happened that I got a bun myself by way of 'commission.'" 


your opinion of the subject," whereupon Macaulay would 
square up and "orate." While he was talking Rogers, who 
was a confirmed invalid, would gradually slip down into his 
chair, his servant having to pull him up by the collar 
when he wished to speak again. He was extremely kind, 
though pompous in manner, and with little or no sense of 
humour. If a stranger arrived he would say to his servant, 
" Thomas, bring down that volume of my celebrated poems" 

He took an almost parental interest in Millais, though 
occasionally treating him with a severity that bordered on 
the comic. My father hated sugar in his tea, and on more 
than one occasion openly expressed his dislike. " Thomas," 
the poet would say, "put three lumps of sugar in Mr. 
Millais' tea ; he ought to like sugar. He is too thin." 

Rogers had an MS. missal of great value, of which he 
was vastly proud. One day little Millais picked it up to 
show it to a young lady. " Boy," roared Rogers from the 
other end of the room, almost suffocating himself as he 
slipped down into his chair, " can't you speak about a book 
without fingering it? How dare you touch my missal ! " 

One day a poor-looking man, apparently a country clergy- 
man, dressed in a shabby tail-coat, came to thank Rogers for 
hospitality before leaving town. As the departing guest 
vanished through the door, after shaking hands with the 
little artist, the poet turned to Millais, who was standing 
near, and said in solemn tones, " Boy, do you know who that 
was ? Some day you will be proud to say that you once met 
William Wordsworth." 

In 1895 Mr. Gladstone and my father were the only sur- 
vivors of these famous parties. A singular circumstance 
was that though my mother, who was then a young girl, used 
frequently to breakfast at Rogers' house, yet she and my 
father never met there. 

Referring to these early days, William Millais says : " We 
were brought up as very loyal subjects, and our chief delight 
was to go to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen and the 
Prince Consort start off up Constitution Hill for their daily 
drive. On one memorable occasion, when we were the only 
people on the footpath, and had just taken off our caps as 
the Royal carriage passed, feeling proudly happy that her 
Majesty had actually bowed to us, a sudden explosion was 
heard, and then another. My father, who had seen what had 
caused them, immediately rushed away from us and seized 


a man who was just inside the railings of the park, and held 
him till some of the mounted escort came to his assistance. 
This man was Oxford, who had fired at the Queen, and after- 
wards proved to be a lunatic. Of course we went immedi- 
ately to examine the wall, and there saw the marks of the 
two bullets, which in a few r days, with the aid of sticks and 
umbrellas, had multiplied considerably." 

As a boy Millais was extremely delicate, and only by slow 
degrees and constant attention to the laws of health did he 
build up the robust constitution it was his privilege to enjoy 
in the later years of his life. It was part of his creed a 
creed he lost no opportunity for impressing upon younger or 
less experienced artists that good health is the first neces- 
sity for a man who would distinguish himself in any walk of 
life, and that that can only be had by periodical holidays, in 
which all thought of business affairs is resolutely cast aside. 
To him the breezy uplands of the North, where with rod and 
gun he could indulge his love of open-air pursuits, offered the 
greatest attraction. Every year, therefore, as soon as he 
could afford it, he took a shooting or a fishing in Scotland, 
and (except on rare occasions) in the first week of August oft 
he went for a three months' holiday, no matter how important 
the work then in hand, or how tempting any commission that 
would interfere with his plan. One instance of this I well 
remember. Towards the close of a season of exceptionally 
hard work he got a letter from an American millionaire offer- 
ing him a small fortune if he would cross the Atlantic in 
August and paint the writer, his wife, and three children life- 
size on one canvas. But he declined at once, remarking 
privately that the subjects were not interesting enough to 
induce him to give up his holiday. 

But to trace his history as a sportsman I must go back to 
the days of his pupilage, when during the summer holidays 
he and my uncle William (himself an expert fisherman) often 
started at daybreak and walked all the way to Hornsey and 
back for a day's fishing in the New River. Cricket too was 
a great delight, and though the latitude of Gower Street did 
not lend itself to progress in the art, they practised after a 
fashion, played when they could, and assiduously studied the 
game at Lord's every Saturday in the season. That was in 
the days when the top-hat affliction permeated even the 
cricket field, as shown in a sheet of my father's sketches 
made on the ground about this time. Lillywhite is seen 



there in all his glory as the first cricketer of the day, his 
amazing" head-gear possibly adding to the awe and admiration 
with which he was regarded by young and aspiring players. 

A letter from William Millais is perhaps worth quoting as 
showing the straits to which he and his brother were put in 
their determination to master " England's game," and how 
they encountered and overcame them. He says : " We used 
to have fictitious matches under the studio in Gower Street. 


With portraits of the famous cricketers, Lillywhite and Minns 

where there was a sort of small fives-court, by the light of a 
feeble gas-burner. We imitated the style of the great 
bowlers and batters of that day. If the ball hit certain 
parts of the wall it was a catch, and certain other parts 
denoted a number of runs. \Ve kept a perfect score, and 
alternately batted and bowled. These matches used to last 
three or four days; it was great fun. Our cricket enthusiasm 
took us to Lord's two or three times a week, and we knew 
the style of every player." 



On this period of Millais' life an old fellow-student is good 
enough to send me the following note: "The Sir John E. 
Millais of Presidential days was a very different person from 
the lad of thirteen whom, in the autumn of 1843, I encountered 

Millais' first picture in oils 

at the Royal Academy, when, with a host of probationers (that 
is, students of the Academy on trial), I entered the Antique 
School, and was greeted with shouts of ' Hallo ! Millais ; 
here is another fellow in a collar.' These cries came from 
the older students "assembled and drawing from the statues, 
busts, and what not. Their occasion was myself, then just 


upon fifteen years old, who it was my mother's pleasure 
should wear on the shoulders of his short jacket a white 
falling collar some four inches wide. It so happened that 
Millais' mother had a similar fancy, and that being younger 
and much smaller than I his collar had a goffered edging, 
which, with his boyish features, light, long, and curling hair, 
made him appear even younger than he was. Upon the 
cries ceasing, there arose from the semicircle of students a 
lightly and elegantly-made youngster wearing such a collar 
as I have described, a jacket gathered at the waist with a 
cloth belt, and its clasp in front. With an assured air he 
crossed the room to where I was standing among the arrivals. 
He walked round me, inspected me from head to foot, turned 
on his heel without a word, stepped back to his seat, and 
went on with his drawing. It so happened that the ever- 
diligent Millais, though much further advanced in the 
Academy, and a student in the Life and Painting, conde- 
scended from time to time to work among the tyros from the 
Antique, such as I was. At that time he was exceedingly 
like the portrait which was painted of him about the date in 
question, by (I think) Sir E. Landseer;* but there was more 
' devil ' and less sentiment in the expression of his features. 
After being inspected, I settled to my work, and forgot all 
about that ordeal till I found Millais, who was then not more 
than five feet two inches tall, standing at my side, and, with 
an air of infinite superiority, looking at my drawing, which 
he greeted in an undertone as ' Not at all bad.' With such 
humility as became me I asked his advice about it, and he 
frankly gave me some good counsel. I ought to have said 
that, long before this, I had heard of his extraordinary techni- 
cal skill in drawing and painting, and I reverenced him as the 
winner of that silver medal which (the first of his Academical 
honours) had fallen to his lot not long before ; but he being a 
pupil in Sass's school and I a student in the British Museum, 
or ' Museumite,' so called, I had not come across the P. R.A. 

" Abounding in animal spirits and not without a playful 
impishness, being very light and small even for his age, 
Millais was the lively comrade I had almost said plaything 
of the bigger and older students, some of whom had, even 
in 1843-44, reached full.. manhood. One of . the latter was 
4 Jacx Harris,' a burly and robust personage, a leader in all 

* The painter was John Phillip, R.A. 


the feats of strength which then obtained in the schools, and 
the same who sat to Millais in 1848-49 for his exact portrait 
as the elder brother who kicks the dog in the picture of 
'Isabella' now at Liverpool. Profoundly contrasted as in 
every respect their characters were, Millais and ' Jack Harris ' 
were comrades and playfellows of the closest order at the 
Academy. For example, 1 remember how, because some 

Wife of the artist's half-brother. Circ. 1843 

workmen had left a tall ladder against the wall of the school, 
nothing would do but on one occasion Harris must carry 
Millais, clinging round his neck, to the top of this ladder. 
It so happened that just at the moment the door of the room 
slowly opened, while no less a person than the keeper entered 
and took up his duties by teaching the student nearest the 
entrance. Discipline and respect for Mr. George Jones [the 
master at that time] forbade Harris to come down the ladder, 


and his safety forbade Millais from letting go his hold. 
Doubtless the keeper saw the dilemma, for, without noticing 
the culprits, he hastened his progress round the room and 
left it as soon as might be, but not before Millais was tired 
of his lofty position." 

The following lines (discovered amongst my father's 
papers) afford an amusing insight into the ways and doings 
of Academy students at that period. The writer's name 
unfortunately does not appear. 

Mr. Jones, it must be observed, delighted in aping the 
appearance of the Duke of Wellington as far as he 
possibly could.* 

" Remember you the Antique School, 
And eke the Academic Stool, 
Under the tutorship and rule 

Of dear old Jones, 
Our aged military keeper 
And medal-distribution weeper, 
For whom respect could not be deeper 

In human bones ; 

" Whose great ambition was to look 
As near as might be like ' the Book,' 
With somewhat less of nasal hook, 

And doubtless brains ; 
Who, I imagine, still delights 
To try and look the ghost, o' nights, 
Of him who fought a hundred fights 

The Duke's remains ? 

" But to return to go on talking 
Of those young days when we were walking 
Towards the never-ending chalking 

From casts, or life 
Days of charcoal stumps, and crumbs, 
' Double Elephant,' and ' Plumbs,' 
Within the sound of barrack drums 

And shrilly fifes ; 

* " I may say of Mr. Jones that he was chiefly known as a painter of military 
pictures, and in dress and person he so much resembled the great Duke of 
Wellington that, to his extreme delight, he was often mistaken for that hero, 
and saluted accordingly. On this coming to the ears of the Duke, he said, 
'Dear me ! Mistaken for me, is he? That's strange, for no one ever mistakes 
me for Mr. Jones.' " 

My Autobiography and Reminiscences, by W. P. FRITH, R.A. 


" Now in the circle gathered round 
To hear the learned youth expound 
Anatomy, the most profound 

Our Private Green ; 
Now in the Library's retreat, 
Upon a fine morocco seat, 
.And in a comfortable heat, 

A gent, I ween ; 

" Tracing armour, and trunk hose, 
Legs in tights, with pointed toes ; 
Meyrick, Bouner, with set chose, 

To parleyvoo ; 

Studying now and then a print, 
An old Sir Joshua Mezzotint, 
Or portrait which affords a hint 

Of something new. 

" In silence let us gently sneak 
Towards the door devoid of creak, 
Which leads us back to that Antique, 

Where youth still plods. 
For now, behold, the gas is lit, 
And nigh a hundred brows are knit, 
Where miserable heathens sit, 

Before their gods. 

" There from the Premier Charley Fox 
That party with the greasy locks, 
Who vainly calls on long-tongued Knox 

To hold his jawings 
Every back is archly bending, 
For the Silver Prize contending, 
This the latest night for sending 

In the drawings. 

"Another minute give them ten 
To cut these from the boards ; and then, 
' Past eight o'clock, please, gentlemen,' 

Shouts little Bob. 
And in the Folio (very cheap !) 
The work of months is in a heap, 
Not worth the wages of a sweep 

For one small job. 

" But now to times a little later, 
When first we drew upstairs from Natur', 
When we were passing that equator 

Of days scholastic ; 
When we were, nightly, stew'd or fried 
With bald-pates glistening by our side, 
And felt ourselves, with conscious pride, 
Beyond the Plastic. 




'&W WOVBE -A, **, .1 uU JM/UROf SS 


"We saw the graceful Wild recline 
Exclaiming, ' Oh ! by George, how fine,' 
And with the thumb describe a line 

In aerial wave 

The right and proper thing to do, 
It mattered not whate'er we drew 
Her, or the sad Cymmon Meudoo, 

As captive slave. 

" Enough ! I feel I 'm going astray 
From dear old Mrs. Grundy's way ; 

And what her followers may say 
I take to heart. 

Yet, should these lines provoke a smile 
A moment of the day beguile 
I '11 maybe send you, in this style, 

A second part." 

With so much work to do the little artist had hardly time 
to make any new acquaintances outside of those whom he 
met daily at the Academy ; nevertheless he managed to 
occasionally see his two Jersey friends. Arthur and Harry 
Lempriere, for they were at school at Brighton, and fre- 
quently visited London during their holidays. To Arthur 
now Major-General Arthur Lempriere I am indebted for 
the following note of his recollections of Millais as a boy : 



" I remember Sir J. E. Millais when I was quite a small 
boy at school at Brighton, where he used to write to me 
and my brother Harry most beautiful letters, all illustrated 
and the words in different coloured inks. One of those 
letters began, ' My little dears' ; but instead of writing the 
word ' dears,' a number of deer were drawn, and so on 
through the whole of a Christmas story, in which he intro- 
duced coloured drawings of coaches and horses, travellers, 
games, etc.* 


Water-colour, executed during a visit in 1844 

"We always called him ' Johnny,' and he constantly spent 
the holidays with us at our home at Ewell, Surrey. My 
father and mother and all our family were very fond of him, 
as well as he of us. 

" He seemed always, when indoors, to have a pen, pencil, 
or brush in his hand, rattling off some amusing caricature 
or other drawing. He was very active and strong, and 
blessed with a most pleasing, good-tempered, and gentle- 
manly manner. During the many years I knew him I never 
once recollect his losing his temper or saying an unkind 

* This letter, illustrated with little water-colours, was exhibited in the Millais 
Exhibition, 1898. 

3 2 



word to anyone, and we all really looked upon him quite 
as a brother. 

" I have heard my father say that my uncle, Mr. Philip 
Lempriere, of Royal Jersey, gave Sir J. E. Millais his first 

" It was in 1847 tnat I remember his drawing all the 
Lempriere family at Ewell standing round a table in the 


drawing-room, and watching eagerly a Twelfth-cake being 
cut by my eldest sister. It was all so cleverly grouped, 
and included my father and mother, my five brothers, seven 
sisters, myself, and himself. It was a picture we all greatly 
valued, as, in addition to the clever grouping, the likenesses 
were so excellent. 

" Millais' power of observation, even when a boy, was 
marvellous. After walking out with him and meeting people 

i8 4 5] 



he would come home and draw an exact likeness of almost 
anyone he happened to have met. He was also well up 
in the anatomy of a horse, and knew exactly where every 
vein and bone should be, and was very fond of drawing 

In 1845 Millais happened to become acquainted with a 
certain Serjeant Thomas, a retired lawyer given to trading 


in works of art. Recognising his genius, and knowing that 
he was very poor, Thomas offered him 100 a year to come 
to his house every Saturday and paint small pictures or 
backgrounds as might be required. The terms seemed fair 
enough, and in the end a contract was drawn up by the 
lawyer and duly signed, binding Millais to serve in this way 
for two years. Little did he know or think of the galling 
yoke that was now hung upon his neck. Thomas, who 
as a picture-dealer got about cent, per cent, profit out of his 

! 3 


work, worried him beyond measure by his constant inter- 
ference, his restrictive rules, and his general insolence of 
manner. At last long before the two years were over- 
things came to a crisis. One Saturday morning not quite 
for the first time Millais came to his work some ten minutes 
late, when Thomas attacked him furiously, winding up a 
long harangue with a personal remark that stung him to the 
quick. He had just arranged his palette with fresh oil- 
colours, and in a moment it was sent flying at his employer's 
head. Happily for the head it was a bad shot ; the palette 
struck against the wall, and then slowly descended to the 
floor. A violent slamming of the door announced Millais' 
departure and his determination never to enter the house 
again. They made it up, however, later on. Thomas 
agreed to increase the pay to ^150 a year, and for a short 
time longer Millais continued his work. Finally, however, 
he gave it up, though offered far higher terms as an induce- 
ment to stay. 

Some forty years passed away, and one Sunday morning, 
after a long walk with Mr. Henry Wells, R.A., Millais 
accompanied him to his studio in Stratford Place. Noticing 
a peculiar expression in his face, Mr. Wells said, '' What 
are you looking at? You seem to know the place." 
"Know it!" said Millais, after a long pause, "I should 
think I do. Why, this is the very room in which Serjeant 
Thomas sweated me, and over there (pointing to one end 
of the studio) I still seem to see the palette I threw at his 
head, with the paint-mark it left on the wall paper as it 
slid slowly down to the floor." 

One of the most interesting relics of this period is the 
first cheque that the young artist received. It is for ^5 
(" Pay to Master Millais for a sketch "), and signed by 
Serjeant Ralph Thomas, dated February 28th, 1846. The 
recipient seems to have been so delighted with this sudden 
acquisition of wealth that, instead of cashing the cheque 
at once, he sat down and made a sketch of himself in his 
painting dress on the back of it. It is now in the possession 
of Mr. Standen, the owner of " Cymon and Iphigenia." 

It was in the summer of 1846 that Millais first travelled 
down to Oxford, where he stayed with his half-brother, 
Henry Hodgkinson, who lived in that town. One of the 
people whose acquaintance he made there was a dealer in 
works of art named Wyatt a remarkable man in many 




ways, and one of nature's gentlemen. He took an imme- 
diate fancy to "Johnny Millais," and between the years 
1846 and 1849 the young artist made frequent visits to 
Oxford as his guest. 

In a wing of his house was a certain room that Millais used 
to occupy, and on the glass window may still be seen two 
designs he made in oils, one representing " The Queen of 

/ / -*v ^; 
1562 ./,:./,.,,. 4/l_ 



The young artist was so delighted at receiving this reward that he at once sat down and 

made the above sketch of himself on the back of the cheque 

Beauty," and the other " The Victorious Knight." At this 
period it seems he had quite a mania for drawing ; even at 
the dinner table he could not remain idle. When no one 
was looking he would take out a pencil and begin making 
sketches on whatever was nearest to his hand. " Take a 
piece of paper, Johnny," Mr. Wyatt would say, "take a 
piece of paper. We cannot have the tablecloth spoiled." 
"Johnny" was accordingly handed paper to relieve his 
superfluous energy, and the number of sketches done at 
table, and now in the possession of Mr. Standen (who 


married Mr. Wyatt's granddaughter), bears witness to his 
ceaseless industry. 

Here, too, in 1846 he made the acquaintance of Mr. 
Drury, of Shotover, a quaint, benevolent old gentleman, 
who loved the fine arts and everything connected with them. 
He made a great pet of the young artist, and insisted on 
his accompanying him wherever he went in his pony-cart, 


for being a huge man and a martyr to gout he could not 
move without his "trap." Nothing could exceed his kind- 
ness to Millais. He gave him a gun, and allowed him 
to shoot over his property and to make the place his home 
whenever he cared to come. There are several sketches by 
Millais of old Mr. Drury and himself taking their toddles 
together done just in a few lines, but (I am told by those 
who saw them at the time) highly characteristic. 

William Millais tells us something of Mr. Drury and 




his peculiar ways. He says, " My brother often went to 
stay at Shotover Park, and on one occasion I was invited 
there too for a fortnight. There was no one with Mr. 
Drury in the huge mansion except his niece, and we boys 
had the run of the place to our hearts' content, fishing and 
shooting wherever we liked. 

"It is not easy to forget my first impressions there. I 


was informed by a stately old butler that ' Master Millais 
was engaged just then with the master.' I entered a 
darkened room, where the old invalid could just be seen 
sitting up in bed with a tallow dip in one hand and a square 
of glass in the other. He was moving the flame of the 
candle all over the under side of the greased surface of the 
glass, which was gradually becoming black with smoke ; on 
this sheet of glass my brother had drawn figures of angels in 


all positions. I had evidently entered at the supreme moment, 
for our host, catching sight of me, cried out, 'Ah, ah! we've 
got it ; you are just in time to see the New Jerusalem.' 
Upon examination, there really was a certain fascination 
about the appearance of this extraordinary ' Kalotype,' as 
he called it, but which might more appropriately have been 
called a 'tallow-type.' 

" The dear old man was under the morbid impression that 
all his relatives wished him dead, so as to inherit his fortune, 
and for this reason he made a large ' Kalotype ' of the sub- 
ject, which was most ghastly. I cannot describe it exactly, 
but remember that a coffin occupied the centre of the picture, 
whilst a regular scrimmage was going on all round. This 
design was carried out by mv brother under his directions. 

o J * 

I shall never forget Mr. Drury's kindness to us boys. He 
completely spoilt us. I used to sing a great deal, and he 
expressed the greatest delight at listening whilst I accom- 
panied myself on the organ in the large hall, where the 
gruesome 'Kalotype' occupied a conspicuous place." 

In 1847, competition being invited for cartoons for the 
decoration of Westminster Hall, Millais sent in a huge 
canvas which he called " The Widow's Mite." Except 
" Pizarro," it was the only picture that he ever executed on 
conventional lines, the figures in shadow being piled and 
grouped up to the culminating point, where Christ stands 
against a blaze of light, and addressing Himself to St. John, 
calls his attention to the woman's act of unselfishness. It 
was, however, voted " intellectually deficient, lacking the true 
note of grandeur when Millais was left to himself." This 
big canvas, which monopolised all the available space in his 
studio and occupied the young artist the greater part of the 
year, had as competitors the works of older and stronger 
men of the day G. F. Watts, Cope, Armitage, Sir John 
Tenniel, and others ; and I am told by a distinguished artist 
that " because she [the widow] holds by the hand a little 
nude child, it set the critics somewhat against the work, as 
displaying such ' bad taste.' ' For some years it was ex- 
hibited in the Pantheon in Oxford Street. Ten feet seven 
by fourteen feet three was not quite the thing for the "show 
parlours " of the day, so it was cut up and sold in bits. 
Mr. Spielmann says that one of these sections is now at 
Tynemouth and the other in the United States, but I have 
since heard that it was distributed in still smaller pieces. 



a >. 

H * 

O 1 

Z . 

N a 

1 8 4 9] 


4 1 

" Cymon and Iphigenia" (painted in 1847) was purchased 
by Mr. Wyatt in 1848, and the dealer was so pleased with 
it that he asked Millais to come down in the following year 
and paint a portrait of himself and his grandchild. This 
was accordingly done, and the portrait is now in the posses- 
sion of Mr. James Wyatt. * 

The picture, " Grandfather and Child," is interesting as 
showing the artist's transition from the technique of "Cymon" 
of the previous year to the more distinctly Pre-Raphaelite 


and technically correct " Woodman's Daughter." A critic 
says of it : " The infinite patience and imitative skill in 
draughtsmanship, the brilliancy of execution, and the power 
of reproducing the brightness of sunlight, have manifestly 
been acquired before the lesson had been learned ot har- 
monious effect and of subordinating the parts to the whole. 
This portrait of Mr. Wyatt, the print and picture dealer and 
frame-maker of Oxford, who died in 1853. is unflinchingly 
true and as matter-of-fact, despite its character, as the flowers 
in the room and in the garden, or the family china in the 

* An excellent copy of this work, now in the possession of Mr. Standen, was 
made in 1850 by William Millais. Millais also painted Mrs. Wyatt and her child, 
and (in 1877) Mr. James Wyatt. 



case behind him. It has all been set down with pitiless and 
remorseless solicitude. The quaint little Dutch doll-like child 
has received the painter's most earnest attention, and the 
head of Mr. Wyatt has been stippled up as carefully as that 
of Mr. Combe, at Oxford." 

Mr. Spielmann's account of the " Cymon " is not quite cor- 
rect, either as to its subject 
or its history. As to its 
subject, it is certainly not 
a " riotous dance," and its 
actual history is as follows: 
In the spring of 1852, 
when it was still in Mr. 
Wyatt's possession, Millais 
saw it and suggested some 
improvements, which the 
owner willingly allowed 
him to carry out. He 
took it back, therefore, to 
Gower Street, and having 
(as he says in a letter) 
"repainted the sky and 
touched up the grass and 
foliage, draperies and ef- 
fects," he returned it to 
Mr. Wyatt in the follow- 
ing December. For its 
subsequent history I am 
indebted to a letter from 
Mr. Standen, the present 
owner, who says : " When 
Mr. Wyatt died, in 1853, 
the best of his pictures and effects were sold at Christie's 
on July 4th, 1853, your father's picture of 'Cymon' figuring' 
largely in the catalogue. Mr. George Wyatt. the second 
son, bought it for himself, and gave 350 guineas for it. 
The picture was then taken to Newport, Isle of Wight, 
where he lived, and it remained there unseen till he died, in 
1892. He left it to me by his will, together with many other 
interesting works." 

Executed in Sadler's Wells Theatre, 1845 


First meeting of Hunt and Millais The pedantry of Art Hunt admitted to the 
R.A. They work together in Millais' studio Reciprocal relief The birth of 
Pre-Raphaelitism The name chosen The meeting of Hunt and D. G. Rossetti 
First gathering of the Brotherhood The so-called influence of Rossetti 
Millais explains The critics at sea D. G. Rossetti Ruskin Max Nordau 
The aims of Pre-Raphaelitism Cyclographic Club Madox Brown "The 
Germ " Millais' story. 

IN this chapter I propose to devote myself exclusively to 
the history and progress of the Pre-Raphaelite move- 
ment, with which Millais was so intimately connected in 
the early years of his life. Those therefore who are not 
interested in this subject will do well to pass on at once to 
Chapter III. 

In the art history of this century probably no movement 
has created so great a sensation as that which is commonly 
known as Pre-Raphaelitism. For years it was on every- 
body's tongue and in every newspaper of the day, and 
after the excitement it occasioned had died out numerous 
pens were engaged in tracing its history according to their 
lights ; but to this day the actual facts are known but to 
very few. I have them from the best possible authority 
the originators themselves, my father and Mr. Holman Hunt. 

How these two men first came together was graphically 
described to me in a long talk I had with Mr. Hunt shortly 
after my father's death. He said, "The first time I saw 
Millais was at the prize-giving at the R.A. in 1838. 
There was much speculation amongst the students as to 
who would gain the gold medal for a series of drawings 
from the antique, and it was generally considered that 
a man, thirty years of age, named Fox, would be the 
successful competitor. All voices were hushed when 
Mr. Jones mounted the steps and read out the name of 





John Everett Millais. Immense cheering followed, and 
little Millais was lifted up at the back of the auditorium 
and carried on the shoulders of the students to the 
receiving desk. Fox, who only got the third prize, 
refused to get up when his name was called ; but the 


YOUTH. 1845 

students would not allow this : they made him go up and 
receive his medal." 

Later on Mr. Holman Hunt, who, though he had worked 
very hard, had failed to get into the Royal Academy, was 
drawing one day in the East Room by himself. " Suddenly," 
said he, "the doors opened, and a curly-headed lad came 
in and began skipping about the room ; by-and-by he 




danced round until he was behind me, looked at my 
drawing for a minute, and then skipped off again. About 
a week later I found the same boy drawing from a cast in 
another room, and returned the compliment by staring at 
Iiis drawing. Millais, who of course it was, turned round 

MANHOOD. 1845 

suddenly and said, 'Oh, I say. you're the chap that was 
working in No. 12 the other day. You ought to be in the 

"This led to a long talk, during which Millais said that 
he was much struck by the drawing which he had seen 
me working at, and that there was not the least doubt that 
if a drawing or two like that were shown for probationer- 


ship, I should be admitted at once. When I asked what 
he thought was the best way of doing the drawings, he 
replied, ' Oh, I always do mine in line and stump, although 
it isn't conventional.' ' 

After this the two boys fell into a discussion on the 
conventionality and pedantry of art as displayed in the 
paintings of the day, aiid it was evident that in both their 
minds had sprung up a sense of dissatisfaction and the idea 
of rejecting what they considered to be false and stunted. 

A year went by. Mr. Hunt was admitted to the Royal 
Academy, and then had frequent opportunities for talking 
to his friend Millais. One evening, some two years later, 
it came out in the course of conversation that while Millais 
was painting the " Pizarro," already referred to, Mr. Hunt was 
engaged at home on a picture for exhibition at the British 
Institution a notable incident as marking the first occasion 
on which either artist painted a picture for exhibition. 

Another year passed, and the young artists were in the 
full swing of their work, Mr. Hunt painting hard at his "Por- 
phyro," and Millais at " Cymon and Iphigenia," a picture 
in which he seems to have been much influenced by Etty, 
the only man of the old school whom he really admired. 
After one of their many talks on originality in art, or rather 
the absence of it at that time, Millais said to Mr. Hunt, " It is 
quite impossible to get our pictures done in time for the Royal 
Academy, unless we sit up and work all night in the last 
week Let us paint together in my studio, and then we can 
encourage each other and talk over our ambitions." This 
was agreed upon, and from that time the two boys began 
to study side by side. How tremendously in earnest they 
were may be gathered from the fact that it was no un- 
common thing for them to work on far into the night, 
sometimes even till four or five in the morning ; this, too, 
night after night till the sending-in day. 

There are always some parts of a picture that an artist 
hates doing. After a month or two Millais got quite sick 
of painting the draperies of the girls in his picture ; so one 
evening he turned to his companion and said, " If you will 
do some of these beastly draperies for me, I '11 paint a head 
or two in your picture for you "-an offer that was at once 
accepted. In this way they relieved each other upon 
occasion, and it is curious to notice how alike their work 
was in those days; so much so, that when Hunt examined 

3 3 

HH ^ 


the picture in the Millais Exhibition of 1898 he could not 
distinguish the parts he had painted. 

It was from these evening stances, and the confidence 
engendered by the free interchange of thought, that sprang 
the determination of these youths to leave the beaten track 
of art and strike out a new line for themselves. Raphael, 
the idol of the art world, they dared to think, was not 
altogether free from imperfections. His Cartoons showed 
this, and his " Transfiguration " still further betrayed the 
falsity of his methods. They must go back to earlier 
times for examples of sound and satisfactory work, and, 
rejecting the teaching of the day that blindly followed in 
his footsteps, must take Nature as their only guide. They 
would go to her, and her alone, for inspiration ; and, hoping 
that others would be tempted to join in their crusade against 
conventionality, they selected as their distinctive title the 
term " Pre-Raphaelites." 

" Each for the joy of the working, and each in his separate star, 
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They Are." 

" It was in the beginning of the year 1848," says Mr. 
Holman Hunt, "that your father and I determined to adopt 
a style of absolute independence as to art-dogma and con- 
vention : this we called ' Pre-Raphaelitism.' D. G. Rossetti 
was already my pupil, and it seemed certain that he also, 
in time, would work on the same principles. He had 
declared his intention of doing so, and there was beginning 
to be some talk of other artists joining us, although in 
fact some were only in the most primitive stages of art, 
such as William Rossetti, who was not even a student. 

" Meanwhile, D. G. Rossetti, himself a beginner, had not 
got over the habit (acquired from Madox Brown) of calling 
our art ' Early Christian ' ; so one day, in my studio, some 
time after our first meeting, I protested, saying that the 
term would confuse us with the German Ouattro Centists. 
I went on to convince him that our real name was ' Pre- 
Raphaelites,' a name which we had already so far revealed 
in frequent argument that we had been taunted as holding 
opinions abominable enough to deserve burning at the 
stake. He thereupon, with a pet scheme of an extended 
co-operation still in mind, amended my previous sugges- 
tion by adding to our title of ' Pre-Raphaelite ' the word 
' Brotherhood.' ' 
i. 4 


Hunt, it should be explained, first met Rossetti in the Royal 
Academy schools, where as fellow-students they occasionally 
talked together. Rossetti, however, was an intermittent 
attendant rather than a methodical student, and presently, 
wearying of the work, he gave it up and took to literature, 
hoping to make a living by his pen. Here again he was 
disappointed. His poems, charming as many of them were, 
did not meet with the wide acceptance he had hoped for, 
and in a fit of despondency he came to Hunt and begged 
him to take him into his studio. But Holman Hunt could 
not do this he was far too busy working for a livelihood, 
with little time to spare for the indulgence of his own taste 
as an artist ; but he laid down a plan of work to be followed 
by Rossetti in his own home, and promised to visit him 
there and give him all the help he could. 

Not satisfied with this, Rossetti betook himself to Maclox 
Brown, whose style of painting he admired, and who, he 
hoped, would teach him the technicalities of his art, while 
allowing him free play in all his fancies. Madox Brown, 
however, had been through the mill himself, and knew there 
was no short cut to success. So, much to the disgust of 
Rossetti, he set him to paint studies of still-life, such as 
pots, jugs, etc. By-and-by this became intolerable to a 
man of Rossetti's temperament, so he once more returned 
to Hunt, and begged him to take compassion on him ; and 
at last, moved by his appeal, Hunt consented. 

These are Hunt's words on the subject: "When D. G. 
Rossetti came to me he talked about his hopes and ideals, 
or rather his despair, at ever being able to paint. I, how- 
ever, encouraged him, and told him of the compact that 
Millais and I had made, and the confidence others had 
in our system. Rossetti was a man who enthusiastically 
took up an idea, and he went about disseminating our 
programme as one to be carried out by numbers. He 
offered himself first, as he knew that Millais had admired 
his pen-and-ink drawings. He then suggested as converts 
Collinson, his own brother William, who intended to take 
up art, and Woolner, the sculptor. Stephens should also 
be tried, and it struck him that others who had never done 
anything yet to prove their fitness for art reformation, or 
even for art at all, were to be taken on trust. Your father 
then invited us all to spend the evening in his studio, where 
he showed us engravings from the Campo Santo, and other 


somewhat archaic designs. These being admired much by 
the new candidates, we agreed that it might be safe to accept 
the additional four members on probation ; but, in fact, it 
really never came to anything." 

The first meeting, at which terms of co-operation were 
seriously discussed, was held on a certain night in 1848, 
at Millais' home in Gower Street, where the young artist 
exhibited, as examples of sound work, 
some volumes of engravings from the 
frescoes of Benozzo Gozzoli, Orcagua, 
and others now in the Campo Santo 
at Pisa. 

" Now, look here, ' said Millais, 
speaking for himself and Hunt, who 
were both jealous of others joining 
them without a distinct understanding 


of their object, " this is what the 
Pre-Raphaelite clique should follow." 
The idea was eagerly taken up, and 
then, or shortly afterwards, William 
Rossetti, Woolner, F. G. Stephens 
(now an Art critic), and James Collin- 
son joined the Brotherhood the 
P.-R. B., as it was now called. 

Arthur Hughes, Frederic Sandys, 
Noel Paton, Charles Collins, and 
Walter Deverell also sympathised 
with their aims, and were more or 
less working on the same lines. 
Coventry Patmore, the poet, although 
in close association with many of the 
Brotherhood, was not himself a mem- 
ber, as the association was strictly 
limited to working artists. 

Writing On this SUbjeCt in the Intended for The Germ. 1849 

Contemporary Review of May, 1880, 

Mr. Holman Hunt says : " Outside of the enrolled body 
[the P.-R. B.] were several artists of real calibre and en- 
thusiasm, who were working diligently with our views 
guiding them. W. H. Deverell, Charles Collins, and 
Arthur Hughes may be named. It was a question whether 
any of them should be elected. It was already evident 
that to have authority to put the mystic monogram upon 



their paintings could confer no benefit on men striving- to 
earn a position. We ourselves even determined for a time 
to discontinue the floating of this red rag before the eyes 
of infuriated John Bull, and we decided it was better to 
let our converts be known only by their works, and so 
nominally Pre-Raphaelitism ceased to be. We agreed to 
resume the open profession of it later, but the time had 
not yet come. I often read in print that I am now the 
only Pre-Raphaelite; yet I can't use the distinguishing 
letters, for I have no Brotherhood." 

And now perhaps I may as well give my father's version 
of the matter as gathered from his own lips in 1896, the year 
when he was elected as President of the Royal Academy. 
At that time the papers, of course, had much to say about 
his art life ; and, finding that some of them referred pointedly 
to D. G. Rossetti's influence on the style and character 
of his work, I asked him to tell me exactly what were his 
relations with Rossetti, and how far these comments were 

"I doubt very much," he said, "whether any man ever 
gets the credit of being quite square and above-board about 
his life and work. The public are like sheep. They follow 
each other in admiring what they don't understand \Onnie 
ionotuni pro magnifico\, and rarely take a man at what he 
is worth. If you affect a mysterious air, and are clever 
enough to conceal your ignorance, you stand a fair chance 
of being taken for a wiser man than you are ; but if you talk 
frankly and freely of yourself and your work, as you know 
I do, the odds are that any silly rumour you may fail to 
contradict will be accepted as true. That is just what has 
happened to me. The papers are good enough to speak 
of me as a typical English artist ; but because in my early 
days I saw a good deal of Rossetti the mysterious and 
un-English Rossetti they assume that my Pre-Raphaelite 
impulses in pursuit of light and truth were due to him. 
All nonsense ! My pictures would have been exactly the 
same if I had never seen or heard of Rossetti. I liked him 
very much when we first met, believing him to be (as 
perhaps he was) sincere in his desire to further our aims 
Hunt's and mine but I always liked his brother William 
much better. D. G. Rossetti, you must understand, was 
a queer fellow, and impossible as a boon companion so 
dogmatic and so irritable when opposed. His aims and 




ideals in art were also widely different from ours, and it was 
not long before he drifted away from us to follow his own 
peculiar fancies. What they were may be seen from his 
subsequent works. They were highly imaginative and 
original, and not without elements of beauty, but they were 
not Nature. At last, when he presented for our admiration 
the young women which have since become the type of 
Rossettianism, the public opened their eyes in amazement. 
'And this,' they said, 'is Pre-Raphaelitism ! ' It was nothing 
of the sort. The Pre-Raphaelites had but one idea to 
present on canvas what they saw in Nature ; and such 
productions as these were absolutely foreign to the spirit 
of their work. 

"The only one of my pictures that I can think of as 
showing what is called the influence of Rossetti is the 
' Isabella,' in which some of the vestments were worked 
out in accordance with a book of mediaeval costumes which 
he was kind enough to lend me. It was Hunt not Rossetti 
whom I habitually consulted in case of doubt. He was 
my intimate friend and companion ; and though, at the time 
I am speaking of, all my religious subjects were chosen and 
composed by myself, I was always glad to hear what he 
had to say about them, and not infrequently to act upon 
his suggestions. We were working together then, and 
constantly criticised each other's pictures." 

The friendly intercourse between Millais and D. G. 
Rossetti lasted but four years, from 1848 to 1852. From 
1852 to 1854 they met occasionally, but alter that they rarely 
came into contact, and in 1856 even these casual meet- 
ings came to an end. One reads then with a smile such 
observations as this in Mr. Spielmann's Millais and his 
Works (1898) : "This is no time to examine the principles 
and the bearings of this oft-discussed mission of eclectics ; 
but it may at least be pointed out how clear a proof of what 
can be done by co-operation, even in art, are the achieve- 
ments of the school. Millais' great pictures of that period 
in many qualities really great are certainly the com- 
bination of the influence of others' powers besides his own. 
His is the wonderful execution, the brilliant drawing; but 
Dante Rossetti's perfervid imagination was on one side 
of him, and Holman Hunt's powerful intellect and resolution 
were on the other ; while, perhaps, the analytical mind 
of Mr. William Rossetti and the literarv outlook of Mr. 


F. G. Stephens were not without influence upon his work. 
In a few short years these supports w r ere withdrawn from 
Millais' art, in which we find the execution still, but where 
at least in tke same degree the intellect or the imagination ? ' 

The "supports," as Mr. Spielmann calls them, never exist- 
ed; and as to "intellect" and "imagination," is there nothing 
of these in "Ferdinand lured by Ariel," "Mariana," "The 
Blind Girl," " L'Enfant du Regiment," or " The Woodman's 
Daughter," with none of which had Rossetti any concern ? 
Indeed, as to the three last-named pictures, I think I am 
right in saying that Rossetti never saw them until they were 
hung on the Academy walls. The " Huguenot," too, and 
the " Ophelia " were seen but once by him when the 
paintings were in process, and that was at Worcester Park 
Farm, when he and Madox Brown called and expressed their 
approval. And now I leave it to my readers to say whether 
the "Isabella" (the only pure mediaeval subject) surpasses 
in point of design, execution, or sentiment such of Millais' 
later works as " The Rescue," " The Order of Release," 
" The Proscribed Royalist," or fifty others that could be 
named. My father hated humbug ; and if Rossetti had 
been the guiding spirit of his works, as certain critics 
represent, he would have been the first to acknowledge it.* 
It was the poetry of Nature that appealed to him the love, 
hope, sweetness, and purity that he found there and it was 
the passionate desire to express what he felt so deeply that 
spurred him on from the beginning to the end of his art life. 

The distinguishing characteristics of Pre - Raphaelite 
workers are well set forth by Mr. Kennedy in a recent 
article in that excellent magazine The Artist. He says, 
" The three chief members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brother- 
hood Rossetti, Millais, and Holman Hunt were men of 
personalities and endowments that were striking in the 
extreme born makers of epochs, men who, whatever the 
vocation that they had elected to follow, would undoubtedly 
have left shaping traces of their individualities upon it. 

" And, to set themselves to work in triple harness, they 
were a trio of a singular diversity of aims and of gifts ; one 
may add of destinies. Quite extraordinary was the dis- 
similarity between the kinds of success attained by each of 
them. Millais trod swiftly and straightly the path of popular 

* It is a significant fact that in my fathers letters of this period (1849-1853), 
the name of D. G. Rossetti is hardly ever mentioned. 


approbation and academic honours, culminating finally in 
the highest dignity that the Royal Academy has to bestow. 
Rossetti and Holman Hunt, after the first, held themselves 
completely aloof from the Academy and all its works. 
Alike in this, how different were their fames in all else. 
During the larger portion of his working life Rossetti's 
achievements in painting were absolutely undreamed of by 
the larger public, were accessible only sparsely and with 
difficulty to his admirers even outside of a limited circle of 
patrons and private friends. To a good many, I fancy, 
Mr. Swinburne's Notes upon the Academy of 1865, de- 
scribing, amongst others, Sandys' ' Medea ' and Rossetti's 
' Lilith,' contained the first intimation that Rossetti the 
poet was also Rossetti the painter. Holman Hunt, upon 
the other hand, had at one time a popular vogue at least 
as great as that of Millais, and his painted work excited 
emotions and enthusiasms of a more decided intensity. 
Those whose memories can be made to extend back to 
the period when ' The Finding of our Saviour in the 
Temple ' was being exhibited in the provinces, will recall 
the vividness of the impression that it made upon the 
religious public of its day. . . . They found in Holman 
Hunt's paintings something of a revelation. Its obvious 
sincerity, its intensity of conviction, its determined realisa- 
'tion of the scene in every minutest detail of its setting, 
affected profoundly all who were capable of being deeply 
stirred by the subject depicted. 

" Millais was gifted with a sense of sight of crystalline clear- 
ness to which Nature made a perpetual and brilliant appeal ; 
he had a hand that, even in childhood, was singularly skilful 
to record the impressions of the eye. And his hand had 
been severely trained, first by the prescribed academic 
methods, and later by the minutely elaborate labour of his 
Pre-Raphaelite work, until it set down facts almost with the 
facility with which the eye perceived them. What, then, 
w r as Millais the Pre-Raphaelite doing in that particular 
galere ? How came this straightforward depictor of what 
he saw before him to link himself with idealists and 
dreamers of dreams ? It was probably the earnestness and 
the devotion to the nature of the movement that attracted 
the youthful Millais, and also the scope that its conscientious 
minuteness of finish afforded him for the display of his even 
then astonishing technical powers." 



As to Rossetti, the fact is he was never a Pre-Raphaelite 
at heart. Himself a man of great originality, and a free- 
thinker in matters of Art, he was captivated by the inde- 
pendent spirit of the Brotherhood, and readily cast in his lot 
with them. But it was only for a time. By degrees their 
methods palled upon his taste, and not caring any longer to 
uphold them before the public, he broke away from his old 
associates, determined to follow the peculiar bent of his 
genius, which taught him not to go to Nature for his inspira- 
tions, but to follow rather the flights of his own fancy. His 
subsequent career is sufficient evidence of that. Only two 

Probably the artist's first idea of " Apple Blossoms " 

years after he first joined the Brotherhood, Mr. Hunt, who 
taught him all the technique he ever knew, got him to come 
down to Knole to paint a background straight from Nature 
whilst he overlooked and helped him. After two days, how- 
ever, Rossetti was heartily sick of Nature, and bolted back to 
London and its artificial life. 

In course of time the instruction he had received from 
Hunt began to bear fruit one sees this in his picture called 
"The Girlhood of the Virgin" and with further practice 
his art improved rapidly, and continued to do so as years 
went on. 

The great mistake that nearly all the critics make is in 
confounding Rossetti's later w r ork, which is imaginative, 
sincere, and entirely of his own conception, with his Pre- 



Raphaelite work, of which he really did very little. They 
call his pictures such as "La bella mano," "Proserpine," 
"Venus Verticordia," "Dante and Beatrice," Pre-Raphaelite, 
which they are not in the very least. They belong to an 
entirely different school, which he himself founded, and which 
has since had such able exponents as Mr. Strudwick and Sir 
Edward Burne-Jones. 

A common mistake that critics make is in assuming that 
the Pre-Raphaelite movement owed its origin to Mr. Ruskin. 
Amongst other writers on the subject is Max Nordau, and 
his statements are for the most part entirely wrong. He 
attributes the origin of the Brotherhood to the teachings of 
Ruskin, but Holman Hunt and Millais were Pre-Raphaelites 
before Ruskin ever wrote a line on the subject. At the 
Academy one of Mr. Ruskin's admirers lent Hunt a copy of 
Modern Painters, and Hunt read it with enthusiasm, as 
partially embodying his own preconceived ideal of art. 
Millais, however, when asked to read the work, resolutely 
refused to do so, saying he had his own ideas, and, convinced 
of their absolute soundness, he should carry them out regard- 
less of what any man might say. He would look neither to 
the right nor to the left, but pursue unflinchingly the course 
he had marked out for himself. And so he did. 

Besides what my father has told me over and over again, I 
have it from Mr. Holman Hunt, his life-long friend, that he 
was never for a moment influenced by Ruskin's teachings. 
Mr. Ruskin, it is true, held Millais up as the shining light 
of the Pre-Raphaelites, and explained his pictures to the 
multitude according to his own ideas ; but that of course 
proves no more than that he admired my father's work, and 
approved what he believed to be the object of his aim. 

Probably no artist in England ever read less on art or 
on his own doings than did Millais. On rare occasions 
criticisms were forced upon his notice, and he read them ; but 
faith in himself and his own opinions was his only guide in 
determining what was good or bad in a picture, whether his 
own or that of another artist. When his work was done he 
banished all thought of it as far as possible, and when by 
chance his friend Ur. Urquhart, of Perth, called his attention 
to Max Nordau's statement that Ruskin was the originator 
and moving spirit of the Pre-Raphaelites in their early days, 
he indignantly denied it ; and, after reading the passages the 
next day, he wrote to Mrs. Urquhart a letter in which he 


gave a rough history of Pre-Raphaelitism, and characterised 
Nordau's remarks as " twaddling rubbish on a subject of 
which he knows absolutely nothing." 

Mr. Ruskin held that Art should be a great moral teacher, 
with religion as its basis and mainspring; but Millais, while 
agreeing with much of that critic's writings,* was never quite 
at one with him on this point. He certainly held that Art 
should have a great and abiding purpose, giving all its 
strength to the beautifying or ennoblement of whatever 
subject it touched, either sacred or secular ; but though 
himself at heart a truly religious man, he could not harp 
on one string alone, nor would his impulsive originality, 
absolutely untrammelled by the opinions of others, allow 
him to paint pictures in which he had no heart at the 
dictation of any man, however eminent. 

Holman Hunt, too, painted his religious pictures on the 
Ruskin lines really as the outcome of the high ideals he 
had set up for himself from the outset. " Truth and the 
free field of unadulterated Nature" was the motto of these 
originators. As Pope says, they "looked through Nature 
up to Nature's God," being sincere in their art, and reso- 
lutely determined to pursue it to its highest ends. 

In saying this I by no means lose sight of the fact that 
the Pre-Raphaelites one and all owed much to Mr. Ruskin for 
his championship of their cause when he came to the know- 
ledge of what they were striving to achieve. With an elo- 
quence to which probably no equal can be found in the annals 
of art criticism, he explained to an unsympathetic public 
the aim and objects of the Brotherhood, and it goes without 
saying that they were highly gratified by his championship. 
When too, later on, he turned round and abused some of 
Millais' best works as heartily as he had praised some others, 
the circumstance was regarded by Millais amongst others 
as merely one of the inconsistencies into which genius is 
apt to fall. No one ever doubted the sincerity of his motive. 
He expressed only what he believed to be right, and in 
so far as he was wrong he helped rather than injured the 
painter's fame. 

Before the Brotherhood was formally constituted, another 
association, called "The Cyclographic Club," came into 
existence, its object being to establish and circulate amongst 

* Millais knew nothing of Ruskin's writings until 1851, when a letter of his 
appeared in the Times. 

O- 3 jj 

'* ~ 

o 1 c 

a 06 

~ PH 




I8 5 2] 


the members a kind of portfolio of art and criticism. Each 
member had to contribute once a month a black-and-white 
drawing, on the back of which the other members were 
to write critiques. This club, if it may be so called, was 
founded by N. E. Green, Burchell, and Deverell, and was 
afterwards joined by Millais, Hunt, Rossetti, and Arthur 
Hughes. In a contribution to The Letttrs of D. G. Rossetti 
to William Allingham Mr. Hughes says, " Millais, who was 
the only man amongst us who had any money, provided 
a nice green portfolio with a lock in which to keep the 
drawings. Millais did his drawing, and one or two others 
did theirs. Then the 'Folio' came to Rossetti, where it 


stuck for ever. It never reached me. According to his 
wont, he (Rossetti) had at first been most enthusiastic over 
the scheme, and had so infected Millais witk his enthusiasm 
that he had at once ordered the case."* 

On this subject Mr. Hughes sends me the following note : 
" In connection with the circulating folio for designs, a few 
members of the Brotherhood met one evening at Rossetti's 
rooms at Chatham Placet Rossetti, Deverell, and myself 

* Mr. Holman Hunt says his "influence" is purely imaginary. Millais had the 
"enthusiasm" for designs in pen-and-ink, and liked to see what others did. 
Some of the drawings were in colour. He adds, " I don't think we ever had 
any meeting, and after about four peregrinations we (Millais, Hunt, and Rossetti) 
seceded, because the contributions were so poor and the portfolio never arrived." 

t This, I think, is a mistake, as Rossetti did not go to Chatham Place till 
1853, when the Cyclographic Club had ceased to exist. Perhaps Mr. Hughes was 
thinking of the club which Lady Waterford and E. V. B. tried to organise. 



and one other, perhaps, but I cannot remember. When 
Millais came in he asked if the folio had arrived from him. 
Yes, there it was. Then if Madox Brown had agreed to 


join, and Rossetti told him that he resisted all persuasion, 
and would not. ; What a peevish old chap he is ! ' cried 
Millais. A little later he noticed that Deverell was smoking 
a cigarette, and earnestly exhorted him to give it up. 
Don't, Deverell, don't take to smoking ; it is frightfully 
injurious, it palls the faculties.' He himself succumbed 
later on ! " 

The Brotherhood, it may be mentioned, neither smoked, 
drank, nor swore, and that at a period when, as Thackeray 
has shown us, all Bohemia was saturated with tobacco, 
spirits, and quaint oaths. Millais, however, after attaining 
his " artistic puberty," as he called it, came to regard the 
pipe of peace as a friend and consoler when (as he some- 
times was) well-nigh distraught with his work. 

Out of the seven Pre-Raphaelite Brothers five were good 
men with their pens, and the Brotherhood being eager to 
defend the position they had taken up, were only too glad 
when, in 1849, it was proposed to start a magazine in support 
of their common creed. In the autumn of that year they met 
together in Mr. Hunt's room, in Cleveland Street, to arrange 
preliminaries with a view to early publication, when various 
plans and names for the magazine were discussed, and at 
last, on the suggestion of Mr. William Cave Thomas, it was 
decided to call it The Germ. 

Arrangements were then made with a publisher, pens and 
pencils were set agoing, and in 1849 the first number of the 
periodical appeared in print. Millais' share in this seems 
to have been limited to two or three illustrations, which 
are now in my possession. He took, however, a great 
interest in the work, and subsequently wrote a complete 
story for publication ; but, alas ! before the time for this 
arrived the magazine came to an end for lack of funds to 
keep it alive. 

Only four numbers ever appeared, and these are now so 
scarce that at a recent sale by auction a complete set 
fetched 100. I give here an illustration that was done 
by Millais for one of Rossetti's stories in this paper, but it 
was never published. 

In the Idler of March, 1898, Mr. Ernest Radford has 
some interesting notes on The Germ " the respiratory 




organ of the Brethren,"^ as he humorously calls it. It 
was edited, he tells us, by Mr. W. M. Rossetti, and printed 
by a Mr. G. F. Tupper, on whose suggestion the title 
was changed in the third number to the more common- 
place one of Art and Poetry ; and, besides many valuable 
illustrations, it comprised contributions in prose and poetry 
by the Rossettis (Christina and her two brothers), Madox 
Brown, F. G. Stephens, Coventry Patmore, Thomas 
Woolner, and various smaller lights. Millais, he says, 
"who never practised an art without mastering it . . . 
etched one plate in illustration of a poem by Rossetti, which 


Intended to illustrate a story by D. G. Rossetti in the fifth number of The Germ. This 
drawing Millais afterwards etched, and a few copies of the plate are in existence 

was to have graced the fifth number," but both etching and 
poem have disappeared. The drawing for the etching is, 
I fancy, amongst those in my possession. 

He also wrote a story for the paper, which would have 
appeared in the fifth number had the periodical survived 
so long. The following is a brief outline of the tale : A 
knight is in love with the daughter of a king who lived in 
a moated castle. His affection is returned, but the king 
swears to kill him if he attempts to see his lady-love. The 
lovers sigh for each other, but there is no opportunity for 
meeting till the winter comes and the moat is frozen over. 

* It was not of the "Brethren" only, others who were in sympathy with 
them also took part in the publication. 


The knight then passes over the ice, and, scaling the walls 
of the castle, carries off the lady. As they rush across the 
ice sounds of alarm are heard within, and at that moment 
the surface gives way, and they are seen no more in life. 
The old king is inconsolable. Years pass by, and the moat 
is drained ; the skeletons of the two lovers are then found 
locked in each other's arms, the water-worn muslin of the 
lady's dress still clinging to the points of the knight's 

It seems from a letter of Rossetti's to W. B. Scott that, 
after the Cyclographic Club and The Germ had come to an 
end, Millais tried to found amongst the Pre-Raphaelite 
Brothers and their allies a sketching club, which would also 
include two ladies, namely, the beautiful Marchioness of 
Waterford and the Honourable Mrs. Boyle (then known as 
E. V. B.), both these ladies being promising artists, above 
the rank of amateurs ; but this scheme also fell through. 


"Lorenzo and Isabella" A prime joke "Christ in the home of His parents "- 
The onslaught of the critics Charles Dickens unfavourable Millais at work 
The newspapers send him to Australia The P.R.B. draw each other for 
Woolner The bricklayer's opinion The elusive nugget ''Ferdinand lured by 
Ariel" The ultra-cautious dealer Millais at the theatre painting portraits 
His sale of "Ferdinand" Mr. Stephens tells of his sittings for " Ferdinand's" 
head Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Combe Their kindness to Millais Millais' 
letters to the Combes His life in London The Collins family Letters about 
"The Woodman's Daughter" and "The Flood" ''Mariana" An obliging 
mouse -"The Woodman's Daughter" William Millais on the picture The 
artist's devotion to truth Ruskin on the Pre-Raphaelites He champions their 
cause His unreliability as a critic. 

MILLAIS' first big work in which he threw down the 
gauntlet to the critics, marking his picture with the 
hated P.R.B. signature, was "Lorenzo and Isabella," the 
subject being taken from Keats' paraphrase of Boccaccio's 
story : 

" Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel ! 

Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye. 
They could not in the self-same mansion dwell 

Without some stir of heart, some malady ; 
They could not sit at meals but feel how well 

It soothed each to be the other by ; 
They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep, 
But to each other dream and nightly weep." 

All the figures were painted from the artist's own friends 
and relations. Mrs. Hodgkinson (wife of Millais' half- 
brother) sat for Isabella ; Millais' father, shorn of his beard, 
sat for the man wiping his lips with a napkin ; William 
Rossetti sat for Lorenzo ; Mr. Hugh Fen is paring an 
apple ; and D. G. Rossetti is seen at the end of the table 
drinking from a long glass ; whilst the brother, spitefully 
kicking the clog, in the foreground, was Mr. Wright, an 
architect ; and a student named Harris. Mr. F. G. Stephens 
is supposed to have sat for the head which appears between 
the watching brother and his wineglass ; and a student 





named Plass stood for the serving - man. Poor Walter 
Deverell is also there. 

Millais planned this work as late as November, 1848, and 
carried it on, as Mr. Holman Hunt says, "at a pace beyond 
all calculation," producing in the end "the most wonderful 
picture in the world for a lad of twenty." 

Study for " Lorenzo and Isabella." 1848 

And now let us see what the critics had to say about it. 
Frasers Magazine of July, 1849, was. to say the least, 
encouraging; witness the following critique: "Among the 
multitude of minor pictures at the Academy, nearly all of 
which, we are bound to say, exhibit more than an average 
degree of excellence, one stands out distinguished from the 
rest. It is the work of a vounor artist named Millais. whose 

* j 


name we do not remember to have seen before. The subject 
is taken from Keats' quaint, charming and pathetic poem, 
' Isabella.' The whole family are seated at a table ; Lorenzo 
is speaking with timid adoration to Isabella, the conscious- 
ness of dependency and of the contempt in which he is held by 
her brothers being stamped on his countenance. The figures 
of the brothers, especially of him who sits nearest to the 
front, are drawn and coloured with remarkable power. The 
attitude of this brother, as his leg- is stretched out to kick 


Isabella's dog, is vigorous and original. The colour of the 
picture is very delicate and beautiful. Like Mr. [Ford 
Madox] Brown, however, this young artist, although ex- 
hibiting unquestionable genius, is evidently enslaved by 
preference for a false style. There is too much mannerism 
in the picture ; but the talent of the artist will, we doubt not, 
break through it." 

And Mr. Stephens was still more complimentary. In the 
Grosvenor Gallery catalogue of the year 1886 he wrote : 
" Every detail, tint, surface texture, and substance, all the 
flesh, all the minutiae of the accessories were offered to the 
exquisitely keen sight, indefatigable fingers, unchangeable 
skill, and indomitable patience of one of the most energetic 
of painters. Such tenacity and technical powers were never, 
since the German followers of Durer adopted Italian prin- 
ciples of working, exercised on a single picture. Van Eyck 
did not study details of ' the life ' more unflinchingly than 
Millais in this case. The flesh of some of the heads, except 
so far as the face of ' Ferdinand ' and some parts of Holman 
Hunt's contemporaneous ' Rienzi,' were concerned, remained 
beyond comparison in finish and solidity until Millais painted 
the hands in ' The Return of the Dove to the Ark." 

But the critics were not all of this mind ; there was con- 
siderable diversity of opinion amongst them. Some were 
simply silent ; but of those who noticed the work at all 
the majority spoke of it in terms of qualified approval, 
regarding it rather as a tentative departure from the 
beaten track of Art than as the fruit of long and earnest 

By the general public it was looked upon as a prime joke, 
only surpassing in absurdity Mr. Holman Hunt's " Rienzi," 
which was exhibited at the same time, and was equally be- 
yond their comprehension. With a plentiful lack of wit, they 
greeted it with loud laughter or supercilious smiles, and in 


some instances even the proud Press descended to insults 
of the most personal kind. This, however, only stiffened 
Millais' resolution to proceed on his own lines, and to defend 
against all comers the principles on which the Brotherhood 
was founded. The picture was bought of the artist by three 
combined amateur dealers, who sold it to Mr. \Yindus, of 
Tottenham. After remaining with him some ten or twelve 
years Gambart bought it, and again sold it to Woolner, R.A. 
It is now in the possession of the Corporation of Liverpool. 
In the following year was exhibited the picture commonly 
known as "Christ in the Home of His Parents," but with no 
other title than the following quotation from Zechariah xiii. 6 : 
" And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in 
Thine hands? Then He shall answer, Those with which I 
was wounded in the house of My friends." It was painted 
on precisely the same principle as was that which had called 
forth the derision of the multitude, and as both Rossetti and 
Mr. Hunt exhibited at the same time important pictures of 
the same school, there could no longer be any doubt as to the 
serious meaning of the movement. Then, with one accord, 
their opponents fell upon Millais as the prime mover in the 
rebellion against established precedent. In the words of a 
latter-day critic, " Men who knew nothing of Art reviled 
Millais because he was not of the art, artistic. Dilettanti 
who could not draw a finger-tip scolded one of the most 
accomplished draughtsmen of the age because he delineated 
what he saw. Cognoscenti who could not paint rebuktcl 
the most brilliant gold medal student of the Royal Academy 
on account of his technical proceedings. Critics of the most 
rigid views belaboured and shrieked at an original genius, 
whose struggles and whose efforts they could not understand. 
Intolerant and tyrannical commentators condemned the youth 
of twenty because he dared to think for himself; and, to sum 
up the burden of the chorus of shame and false judgment, 
there was hardly a whisper of faith or hope, or even of 
charity nay, not a sound of the commonest and poorest 
courtesy vouchsafed to the painter of ' The Carpenter's 
Shop,' as, in utter scorn, this picture was originally and 
contumeliously called." 

What the Academy thought of it may be gathered from 
the words of the late F. B. Barwell : "I well remember 
Mulready, U.A., alluding to the picture some two years after 
its exhibition. He said that it had few admirers inside the 


Royal Academy Council, and that he himself and Maclise 
alone supported its claims to a favourable consideration." 

The picture itself, devotional and symbolic in intent, is 
too well known to need any description. The child Christ 
is seen in His father's workshop with blood flowing from His 
hand, the result of a recent wound, while His mother waits 
upon Him with loving sympathy. That is the main subject. 
And now let us see how it was treated by the Press. 

Blackwoods Magazine dealt with it in this wise : "We can 
hardly imagine anything more ugly, graceless, and unpleasant 
than Mr. Millais' picture of ' Christ in the Carpenter's Shop.' 
Such a collection of splay feet, puffed joints, and misshapen 
limbs was assuredly never before made within so small a 
compass. We have great difficulty in believing a report 
that this unpleasing and atrociously affecte-l picture has found 
a purchaser at a high price. Another specimen from the 
same brush inspires rather laughter than disgust." 

That was pretty strong ; but, not to be left behind in 
the race to accomplish the painter's ruin, a leading literary 
journal, whose Art critic, by the way, was a Royal Acade- 
mician, delivered itself in the following terms : " Mr. Millais 
in his picture without a name. (518), which represents a holy 
family in the interior of a carpenter's shop, has been most 
successful in the least dignified features of his presentment, 
and in giving to the higher forms, characters, and meanings 
a circumstantial art language from which we recoil with loath- 
ing and disgust. There are many to whom his work will 
seem a pictorial blasphemy. Great imaginative talents have 
here been perverted to the use of an eccentricity both lament- 
able and revolting." 

Another critic, bent on displaying his wit at the expense of 
the artist, said : " Mr. Millais' picture looks as if it had passed 
through a mangle. " And even Charles Dickens, who in 

o L> 

later years was a firm friend of Millais and a great admirer 
of his works, denounced the picture in a leading article in 
Household Words as "mean, odious, revolting, and repulsive." 
But perhaps the most unreasonable notice of all was the 
following, which appeared in the Times: "Mr. Millais' 
principal picture is, to speak plainly, revolting. The attempt 
to associate the holy family with the meanest details of a 
carpenter's shop, with no conceivable omission of misery, of 
dirt, of even disease, all finished with the same loathsome 
minuteness, is disgusting ; and with a surprising power of 

7 6 



imitation, this picture serves to show how far mere imitation 
may fall short, by dryness and conceit, of all dignity and 

From these extracts it is easy to see what criticism was 
a generation ago. As Mr. Walter Armstrong says, " Not 
the faintest attempt is made to divine the artist's standpoint, 
and to look at the theme from his side. The writer does 
not accept the Pre-Raphaelite idea even provisionally, and 
as a means of testing the efficiency of the work it leads to. 
He merely lays down its creations upon his own procrustean 
bed, and condemns them en bloc because they cannot be 
made to fit. And this article in the Times is a fair example 

(Four figures only) 

of the general welcome the picture met with. . . . Such 
criticism is mere scolding. When an artist of ability denies 
and contemns your canvas, to call him names is to confess 
their futility." 

In an interesting note on this picture Mr. Edward Benest 
(Millais' cousin) says, "During the three years I was working 
in London I was a frequent visitor to the Gower Street 
house. . . . From the intellectual point of view this picture 
may be said to be the outcome of the combined brains of the 
Millais family. Every little portion of the whole canvas was 
discussed, considered, and settled upon by the father, mother, 
and Johnnie (the artist) before a touch was placed on the 
canvas, although sketches had been made. Of course, 
coming frequently, I used to criticise too ; and if I suggested 

1 849] 



any alteration, Johnnie used to say in his determined way, 
' No, Ned ; that has been all settled by us, and I shan't 
alter it.' 

" Everything in that house was characteristic of the great 
devotion of all to the young artist ; and yet he was in no 
way spoilt. Whilst he was at work his father and mother 
sat beside him most of the time, the mother constantly 
reading to him on every imaginable subject that interested 


the boy, or stopping to discuss matters with him. The boy 
himself, whilst working, joined freely and cleverly in any 
conversation that was going on ; and once when I asked 
him how he could possibly paint and talk at the same time, 
and throw such energy into both, he said, tapping his fore- 
head, ' Oh, that 's all right. I have painted every touch 
in my head, as it were, long ago, and have now only to 
transfer it to canvas.' The father a perfect optimist when 
unable to help in any other way, would occupy himself by 


pointing all Johnnie's pencils or playing whole operas on 
the flute. This instrument he played almost as well as any 

" The principal point of discussion with regard to the 
' Carpenter's Shop ' related to the head of the Virgin Mary. 
At first, as his sketches show, she was represented as being 
kissed by the child Christ ; but this idea was presently 
altered to the present position of the figures, and the mother 
is now shown embracing her Son. These two figures were 
constantly painted and repainted in various attitudes, and 
finished only a short time before the picture was exhibited. 
The figure, too, of St. John carrying a bowl of water was 
inserted at the last moment." 

The picture, when finished (not before), was sold for 
^150 to a dealer named Farrer, whose confidence in the 
young artist was amusingly displayed by pasting on the back 
of it all the adverse criticisms that appeared. 

The models for this picture were as follows : the 
Virgin Mary, Mrs. Henry Hodgkinson, the Christ, Noel 
Humphreys (son of an architect), John the Baptist, Edwin 
Everett (an adopted child of the Mr. Everett who married 
Millais' aunt), and the apprentice H. St. Ledger. In painting 
it, Millais was so determined to be accurate in every detail, 
that he used to take the canvas down to a carpenter's shop 
and paint the interior direct from what he saw there. The 
figure of Joseph he took from the carpenter himself, saying 
that it was " the only way to get the development of the 
muscles right"; but the head was painted from Millais' 
father. His great difficulty was with the sheep, for there 
were no flocks within miles of Gower Street. At last, only 
a few days before the picture had to be sent in to the Royal 
Academy, he went to a neighbouring butcher's, where he 
bought two sheep's heads with the wool on, and from these 
he painted the flock. 

There is a good story about these Pre-Raphaelite days 
that I am tempted to introduce here in contrast with the 
graver portion of this chapter. Gold-digging is hardly an 
adventure in which I should have expected my father to 
engage ; but the papers, of course, must be right, and in 
1886 one of them (an Edinburgh evening journal) announced 
that at a certain period in the fifties Millais was travellino- 
in Australia in company with Woolner, the sculptor, and the 
present Prime Minister of E no-land, and for some time 


worked with his own hands in the Bendigo gold-diggings. 
None of us at home had even heard of this before ; but 
there it was in print, and presently every tit-bitty paper in 
the country repeated the tale with all the rhetorical adorn- 
ment at the command of the writer. " The frenzied energy 
of gold-seekers " was one of the phrases that specially 
pleased us, and we never failed to throw it at my father's 
head whenever he was in a bit of a hurry. 

And still the tale goes on. Quite recently the familiar 
old story appeared again in an Australian paper, the writer 
observing that no biography of the deceased artist would 
be complete without an account of his experiences in the 
southern goldfields. It seems a pity to prick this pretty 
bubble ; but as a matter of fact my father was never in 
the goldfields, and through the fifties he was hard at work 
at home. It was Woolner alone who went in search of the 
elusive nugget, but presently returned to his art work in 
England, richer rather in experience than in solid gold. 

Of one of the evening meetings in Woolner's absence 
Mr. Arthur Hughes obliges me with the followino- note: 

O O Z3 

"\Yhile Woolner was in Australia his Pre-Raphaelite 
Brothers agreed to draw one another and send the draw- 
ings out to him ; and one day, when two or three of them 
were about this at Millais' house, Alexander Munro, the 
sculptor, chanced to call. Millais, having finished his Pre- 
Raphaelite Brotherhood subject, got Munro to sit, and drew 
him, and afterwards accompanied him to the door with 
the drawing in his hand, to which Munro was making some 
critical objection that Millais did not agree with. There 
happened to be passing at the time a couple of rough brick- 
layers, fresh from their work short pipes and all. To 
them Millais suddenly reached out from the doorstep and 
seized one, to his great surprise, and there and then con- 
stituted them judges to decide upon the merits of the 
likeness, while Munro, rather disconcerted, had to stand 
in the street with his hat off for identification. A most 
amusing scene ! " 

Mr. F. G. Stephens tells us something further about these 
portraits and the final Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood meetings. 
He writes : "It was in the Gower Street studio that in 
1853 the variously described meeting of the Pre-Raphaelite 
Brotherhood then in London occurred in order that the 
artists present might send as souvenirs to Woolner, then 
i. 6 


in Australia, their portraits, each drawn by another. Millais 
fell to me to be drawn, and to him I fell as his subject. 
Unhappily for me, I was so ill at that time that it was with 
the greatest difficulty I could drag myself to Gower Street ; 
more than that, it was but the day before the entire ruin 
of my family, then long impending and long struggled 
against in vain, w r as consummated. I was utterly unable 
to continue the sketch I began. I gave it up, and Mr. 
Holman Hunt, who had had D. G. Rossetti for his vis-a-vis 
and sitter, took my place and drew Millais' head. The 
head which Millais drew of me is now in my possession, 
the gift of Woolner, to whom it was, with the others, sent 
to Sydney, whence he brought the whole of the portraits 
back to England. My portrait, which by the way is a 
good deal out of drawing, attests painfully enough the state 
of health and sore trouble in which I then was. This 
meeting was one of the latest "functions" of the Pre- 
Raphaelite Brotherhood in its original state. Collinson had 
seceded, and Woolner emigrated to the " diggings " in 
search of the gold he did not find. Up to that time the 
old affectionate conditions still existed among the Brothers, 
but their end was near. Millais was shooting on ahead; Mr. 


Holman Hunt was surely, though slowly, following his path 
towards fortune ; D. G. Rossetti had retired within himself, 
and made no sign before the world ; W. M. Rossetti was 
rising in Her Majesty's service ; and I was being continuedly 
drawn towards that literary work which brought me bread. 
None of the six had, however, departed from the essentials 
of the Pre-Raphaelite faith which was in him." 

" Ferdinand lured by Ariel," painted in 1849, was another 
important picture that warred with the prevailing sentiment 
of the day, its high finish in every detail and the distinctly 
original treatment of the subject tending only to kindle anew 
the animosity of the critics against Millais and the principles 
he represented. Even the dealer for whom it was painted 
as a commission for ^100 refused to take it, and when, 
later on, it was exhibited at the Academy (now the National 
Gallery), it was ignominiously placed low down in a corner 
of one of the loner rooms. 


This shameless breach of contract on the part of the 
dealer was a bitter disappointment to the young artist, 
for he could ill afford to keep his pictures long in hand. 
His parents, never well off, had given up everything for 

is 5 o] SALE OF "FERDINAND" 83 

"Jack," and determined that he should lack for nothing that 
could in anywise tend to his advancement, and for the last 
four years ever since he was sixteen years of age he 
had striven hard to requite their kindness, supplying, as 
he did from the profits of his work, the greater part of the 
household expenses at Gower Street. To eke out his 
precarious income he often went to theatres, where he could 
earn small sums by making sketches of the actors and 
actresses ; but as he seldom got more than a couple of 
sovereigns for a finished portrait, this loss of ^100 was 
a matter of no small moment to his family as well as 

But now another chance for the sale of " Ferdinand " 
presented itself. Mr. Frankum, an appreciative friend, 
brought to the studio a stranger who admired it greatly, 
and made so many encouraging remarks that Millais felt 
sure he would buy it. To his disappointment, however, 
no offer was made. The visitors went away, and he dole- 
fully took up the picture to put it back in its accustomed 
place, when, to his joy and amazement, he found underneath 
it a cheque for ^"150! It was Mr. Richard Ellison, of 
Sudbrook Holme, Lincolnshire, a well-known connoisseur, 
whom Mr. Frankum had brought with him, and he had 
quietly slipped in this cheque unperceived by the artist. 
The picture has since been successively in the hands of 
Mr. Wyatt, of Oxford, Mr. Woolner, K.A. (who made quite 
a little fortune by buying and selling the Pre-Raphaelite 
pictures), and Mr. A. C. Allen, and is now in the possession 
of Mr. Henry Makins. From one of his letters to Mr. Wyatt 
(December, 1850) it seems that Millais made some slight 
alterations in, or additions to, the work after it had been 
sold to Mr. Ellison, for he took it again down to Oxford and 
worked once more upon the background, leaving it to dry 
the while in the possession of his friend Mr. Wyatt. 

As to its merits, I need only quote the opinion of Mr. 
Stephens, who sat for " Ferdinand." In a recent notice of 
the work he says : " Although the face is a marvel of finish, 
and unchangeable in its technique, it was begun and com- 
pleted in one sitting. Having made a very careful drawing 
in pencil on the previous day, and transferred it to the 
picture, Millais, almost without stopping to exchange a word 
with his sitter, worked for about five hours, put clown his 
brushes, and never touched the face again. In execution it 

8 4 



is exhaustive and faultless. Six-and-thirty years have not 
harmed it." 

In a letter to me Mr. Stephens gives some further details 
about the picture and his sittings for it. He says : " My 
intimacy with Millais, of course, took a new form with this 
brotherly agreement [of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood], 
and it was probably in consequence of this that I sat to him 
for the head of the Prince in the little picture of ' Ferdinand 

lured by Ariel,' which, 
being painted in 1849- 
50, was at the Academy 
in 1850, and is the 
leading example of Pre- 

"According to Millais, 
each Brother worked 
according to his own 
lights and the general 
views of the Brother- 
hood at that time. Such 
being the case, I may 
describe the manner of 
the artist in this par- 
ticular instance. In the 
summer and autumn of 
1849 he executed the 
whole of that wonderful 
background, the de- 
lightful figures of the 
elves and Ariel, and he 
sketched in the Prince 
himself. The whole was 
done upon a pure white 
ground, so as to obtain 
the greatest brilliancy 
of the pigments. Later 
on my turn came, and 

in one lengthy sitting Millais drew my most un-Ferclinand- 
like features with a pencil upon white paper, making, as 
it was. a most exquisite drawing of the highest finish and 
exact fidelity. In these respects nothing could surpass this 
jewel of its kind. Something like it, but softer and not 
quite so sculpturesque, exists in the similar study Millais 



By permission of Mr. Henry Makins. 


made in pencil for the head of Ophelia, which I saw not 
long ago, and which Sir W. Bowman lent to the Grosvenor 
Gallery in 1888. 

" My portrait was completely modelled in all respects 
of form and light and shade, so as to be a perfect study 
for the head thereafter to be painted. The day after it 
was executed Millais repeated the study in a less finished 
manner upon the panel, and on the day following that I 
went again to the studio in Gower Street, where ' Isabella ' 
and similar pictures were painted. From ten o'clock to 
nearly five the sitting continued without a stop, and with 
scarcely a word between the painter and his model. The 
clicking of his brushes when they were shifted in his palette, 
the sliding of his foot upon the easel, and an occasional sigh 
marked the hours, while, strained to the utmost, Millais 
worked this extraordinary fine face. At last he said, ' There, 
old fellow, it is done ! ' Thus it remains as perfectly pure 
and as brilliant as then- fifty years ago and it now remains 
unchanged. For me, still leaning on a stick and in the 
required posture, I had become quite unable to move, rise 
upright, or stir a limb till, much as if I were a stiffened lay- 
figure, Millais lifted me up and carried me bodily to the 
dining-room, where some dinner and wine put me on my 
feet again. Later the till then unpainted parts of the figure 
of Ferdinand were added from the model and a lay-figure. 

"It was in the Gower Street studio that Millais was wont, 
when time did not allow of outdoor exercises, to perform 
surprising feats of agility and strength. He had, since we 
first met at Trafalgar Square, so greatly developed in tallness, 
bulk, and manliness that no one was surprised at his progress 
in these respects. He was great in leaping, and I well re- 
member how in the studio he was wont to clear my arm 
outstretched from the shoulder that is, about five feet from 
the ground- at one spring. The studio measures nineteen 
feet six inches by twenty feet, thus giving him not more than 
fourteen feet run. Many similar feats attested the strength 
and energy of the artist." 

And now I must introduce two old friends of my father, 
whose kindness and generosity to him in his younger days 
made a deep and lasting impression upon his life. In 1848, 
when he first became acquainted with them, Mr. Thomas 
Combe was the Superintendent of the Clarendon Press at 
Oxford a man of the most cultivated tastes, and highly 


respected and beloved by every member of the University 
with whom he came into contact and his w r ife was a very 
counterpart of himself. Millais was staying at Oxford at 
the time, engaged in painting the picture of Mr. Wyatt and 
his granddaughter referred to in an earlier portion of this 
chapter, and the Combes, who were among the first to 
recognise and encourage the efforts of the Pre-Raphaelite 
School, took him under their wing, treating him with almost 
parental consideration. In 1849 he returned to Oxford, and 
stayed with them while painting Mr. Combe's portrait, and 
from that time they became familiar friends, to whom it was 
always a pleasure to write. 

The following letters, kindly placed at my disposal by 
Mrs. Combe, serve to illustrate his life at this period. 
Mr. Combe, it must be understood, Millais commonly 
referred to as "The Early Christian"; Mrs. Combe he 
addressed as " Mrs. Pat." 

To Mrs. Combe. 

"November i^th, 1850. 

" MY DEAR MRS. PAT, Our departure was so velocitous 
that I had no time or spirits to express my thanks to you 
before leaving for your immense kindness and endurance 
of all whimsicalities attached to my nature. I scribble 
this at Collins' house, being totally incapable of remaining 
at my own residence after the night's rest and morning's 
' heavy blow ' of breakfast. The Clarendonian visit, the 
Bottleyonian privations, and Oxonian martyrdoms have 
wrought in us (Collins and myself) such a similar feeling 
that it is quite impracticable to separate. I had to go 
through the exceedingly difficult task of performing the 
dramatic traveller's return to his home embracing fero- 
ciously and otherwise exulting in the restoration to the 
bosom of my family. I say I had to ' perform ' this part, 
because the detestation I hold London in surpasses all 
expression, and prevents the possibility of my being pleased 
to return to anybody at such a place. Mind, I am not 
abusing the society, but the filth of the metropolis. 

" Now for a catalogue of words to express my thanks 
to you and Mr. Combe. I have not got Johnson's dictionary 


near me, so I am at a loss. Your kindness has defeated the 
possibility of ever adequately thanking you, so I will con- 
clude with rendering- my mother's grateful acknowledgments. 
" Remember me to all my friends, and believe me, 
"Yours most sincerely, 


Note. The " Bottleyonian privations" refer to the hard 
fare on which Millais and Charles Collins subsisted at the 
cottage of Mrs. King, at Botley, whilst the former was 
painting " The Woodman's Daughter." Mrs. Combe's 
motherly kindness to the two young artists is thus referred 
to by Dr. Birkbeck Hill in his book on the Rossetti letters : 
" I have heard Mrs. Combe relate a story how Millais and 
Collins, when very young men, once lodged in a cottage 
nearly opposite the entrance of Lord Abingdon's park close 
to Oxford. She learnt from them that they got but poor 
fare, so soon afterwards she drove over in her carriage, and 
left for them a large meat-pie. Millais, she added, one day 
said to Mr Combe, ' People had better buy my pictures 
now, when I am working for fame, than a few years later, 
when I shall be married and working for a wife and children.' 
It was in these later years that old Linnell exclaimed to him, 
' Ah, Mr. Millais, you have left your first love, you have left 
your first love ! ' ' 

To the same. 

"December 2nd, 1850. 

" MY DEAR MRS. PAT, First I thank you most intensely 
for the Church Service. The night of its arrival I read 
the marriage ceremony for the first time in my life, and 
shall look upon every espoused man with awe. 

" I am delighted to hear that you are likely to visit 
Mrs. Collins during the 1851 Exhibition, as you will meet 
with a most welcome reception from that lady, who is all 

"My parents are likely to be out of town at that time. 
My mother, not having left London for some years, prefers 
visiting friends in Jersey and in familiar localities in France 
to remaining in the metropolis during the tumult and excite- 


ment of 1851. I hope, however, on another occasion you 
will have the opportunity of knowing them, in case they 
should be gone before you are here. 

" Every Sunday since I left Oxford Collins and I have 
spent together, attending Wells Street Church. I think you 
will admit (when in town) that the service there is better 
performed than any other you have ever attended. \\Y 
met there yesterday morning a University man of our 
acquaintance who admitted its superiority over Oxford or 
Cambridge I am ashamed to say that late hours at night 
and ditto in the morning are creeping again on us. Now 
and then I make a desperate resolution to plunge out of 
bed when called, which ends in passively lying down again. 
A late breakfast (I won't mention the hour) and my lay- 
figure [artist's dummy] stares at me in reproving astonish- 
ment as I enter my study. During all this time I am so 
powerlessly cold that 1 am like a moving automaton. The 
first impulse is to sit by my stove, which emits a delicious, 
genial, unwholesome, feverish heat, and the natural course 
of things brings on total incapacity to work and absolute 
laziness. In spite of this I manage to paint three hairs on 
the woodman's little o-irl's head or two freckles on her face ; 


and so lags the day till dark, by which time the room is 
so hot, and the glue in the furniture therein so softened by 
the warmth, that the chairs and tables are in peril of falling 
to pieces before my lace. . . . But I, like the rest of the 
furniture, am in too delicate a state to be moved when the 
call for dinner awakens the last effort but one in removing 
my body to the table, where the last effort of all is required 
to eat. 

" This revives just strength enough to walk to Hanover 
Terrace in a night so cold that horses should wear great- 
coats. Upon arriving there I embrace Collins, and vice 
versa; Mrs. Collins makes the tea, and we drink it; we 
then adjourn upstairs to his room and converse till about 
twelve, when we say good-night, and again poor wretched 
'Malay' [he was always called 'Mr. Malay' wherever he 
went] risks his life in the London Polar voyage, meeting no 
human beings but metropolitan policemen, to whom he has 
an obscure intention of giving a feast of tea and thicker 
bread and butter than that given by Mr. Hales, of Oxford, 
in acknowledgment of his high esteem of their services. At 
one o'clock in the morning it is too severely cold for anything 


to be out but a lamp-post, and I am one of that body. [An 
occult reference to his slim ness.] 

" Respecting my promised visit at Christmas, if nothing 
happens to prevent me I shall certainly be with you then. 
Shall probably come the night before, and leave the night after. 

"I have entirely settled my composition of "The Flood," 
and shall commence it this week. I have also commenced 
the child's head in the wood scene. 

" I have, as usual, plenty of invitations out, all of which I 
have declined, caring no more for such amusements. It is 
useless to tell you that I am miserable, as this letter gives 
you my everyday life. 

" Remember me to Mr. Combe most sincerely, and to all 
about you, and believe me to remain, 

" Ever your affectionate friend, 


In these days he frequently referred to and made fun of 
his extreme slimness, as to which William Millais writes : 
" My brother, up to the a^e of twenty-four, was very slight 
in figure, and his height of six feet tended to exaggerate the 
tenuity of his appearance. He took pleasure in weighing 
himself, and was delighted with any increase of weight. I 
remember when he went to Winchelsea in 1854 to paint the 
background for the ' Blind Girl/ whilst waiting for a fly at 
the railway station we were weighed. I just turned twelve 
stone, and when my brother went into the scales the porter 
was quite dumbfoundered when three stone had to be ab- 
stracted before the proper balance was arrived at. ' Ah ! you 
may well look, my man,' said my brother ; ' I ought to be 
going about in a menagerie as a specimen of a living paper- 
knife.' We all know how that state of things was altered in 
after years ; he might have gone back to his menagerie as a 
specimen of fine manly vigour and physique." 

7o Mr. Combe. 

"December \6th, 1850. 

" DEAR EARLY CHRISTIAN, I w r as extremely surprised and 
delio-hted at your letter. The kind wish therein that I might 

<i? J O 

stay a little while at Christmas I am afraid can never be 

9 2 



realised, as I can only come and go for that day. My family, 
as vou may imagine, were a little astonished on hearing my 

i '-m i 

intention to leave them at that time. 1 hey are, however, 
reconciled now, and I shall (all things permitting) be with 
you. I have settled down to London life again for the 
present, and the quiet, pleasant time at Oxford seems like a 


dream. I wish the thought of it would take that form 
instead of keeping me awake almost every night up to three 
and four o'clock in the morning, at which time the most 


depressing of all circumstances happens the performance of 
'the Waits.' To hear a bad band play bad music in an 
empty street at night is the greatest trial I know. I should 
not like to visit I3r. Leigh's asylum as a patient, so shall 


endeavour to forget all bygone enjoyments, together with 
present and future miseries that keep me from sleep. 

" You will perhaps wonder what these ailments can be. 
I will enumerate them. First, a certainty of passing an 
unusually turbulent life (which I clo not like) ; secondly, the 
inevitable enemies I shall create if fully successful ; thirdly, 
the knowledge of the immense application required to com- 
plete my works for the coming exhibition, which I feel inade- 
quate to perform. I think I shall adopt the motto ' In ccelo 
quies,' and go over to Cardinal Wiseman, as all the metro- 
politan High Church clergymen are sending in their resigna- 
tions. To-morrow (Sunday) Collins and myself are going to 
dine with a University man whose brother has just seceded, 
and afterwards to hear the Cardinal's second discourse. My 
brother went last Sunday, but could not hear a word, as it 
was so crowded he could not get near enough. The Cardinal 
preaches in his mitre and full vestments, so there will be a 
great display of pomp as well as knowledge 

''And now, my dear Mr. Combe, I must end this 'heavy 

blow ' letter with most affectionate remembrances and earnest 

assurances to Mrs. Pat that I do not mean to turn Roman 

Catholic just yet. Also remember me kindly to the Vicar, 

" And believe me to remain, 

"Yours most affectionately, 


After his Christmas visit he wrote 

To Mrs, Combe. 

"December y>th, 1850. 

" MY DEAR MRS. COMBE, The last return was more 
hurried than the first. I found my portmanteau, when at 
the station, unstrapped and undirected. We, however, got 
over those difficulties, and arrived safely. I recollect now 
that we did not say a farewell word to Mr. Hackman ; also 
forgot to ask you and Mr. Combe to give a small portion of 
your hair for the rings, there being a place for that purpose. 
Pray send some for both. 

" It is needless to say our relatives are somewhat surprised 
at your kind presents. They are universally admired. I am 


deep in the mystery of purchasing velvets and silk draperies 
for my pictures [' Mariana ' and ' the Woodman's Daughter ' 
The shopman simpers with astonishment at the request 
coming from a male biped. I begin to long for these toil- 
some three months to pass over; I am sure, except on 
Sundays, never to go out in the daylight again for that 


" I have seen Charley Collins every night since, and 
see him again to-night/ We go to a dancing party to- 
morrow : at least it is his desire, not mine. The days draw- 
in so early now that it is insanity to stay up late at night, and 
get up at eleven or twelve the next morning. I wish you 
were here to read to me. None of my family will do that. 
[In those days he liked being read to whilst at his work, his 
mother having done so for years.] 

"Get the Early Christian, in his idle moments, to design 
the monastery and draw up the rules . . . and believe me 
always Your affectionate friend, 


To the same. 


"January \*>th, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MRS. PAT, I have been so. much engaged 
since I received your letter that I had no time to write to 
you. ... I saw Carlo last night, who has been very lucky 
in persuading a very beautiful young lady to sit for the head 
of ' The Nun.' She was at his house when I called, and 
I also endeavoured to obtain a sitting, but was unfortunate, 
as she leaves London next Saturday. 

" I have progressed a little with both my pictures, and 
completed a very small picture of a bridesmaid who is passing 
the wedding-cake through the ring nine times.* I have not 
yet commenced 'The Flood,' but shall do so this week for 

" Believe me, wishing a happy new year to both of you, 

" Yours most affectionately, 


* "The Bridesmaid," now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. 


The folio winor letter is characteristic as showing- Millais' 

<j ^> 

careful regard to details. The materials asked for were for 
use in painting " The Woodman's Daughter." 

To Mr. Combe. 


"January 2%th, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, You have doubtless wondered 
at not hearing from me, but want of^ subject must be my 

" I have got a little commission for you to execute for me. 
You recollect the lodge at the entrance of Lord Abingdon's 
house, where I used to leave my picture of the Wood 
[' The Woodman's Daughter ']. Well, in the first cottage 

L, j _J ^5 

there is a little girl named Esther ; would you ask the 
mother to let you have a pair of her old walking-boots ? 
I require them sent on to me, as I wish to paint them in the 
wood. I do not care how old they are ; they are, of course, 
no use without having been worn. Will you please supply 
the child with money to purchase a new pair ? I shall settle 
with you when I see you in the spring. If you should see 
a country-child with a bright lilac pinafore on, lay strong 
hands on the same, and send it with the boots. It must be 
long, that is, covering the whole underdress from the neck. 
I do not wish it new, but clean, with some little pattern 
pink spots, or anything of that kind. If you have not time 
for this task, do not scruple to tell me so. 

" ' The Flood ' subject I have given up for this year, and 
have substituted a smaller composition a little larger than 
the Wood. The subject is quite new and, I think, 
fortunate ; it is the dove returning to the Ark with the 
olive-branch. I shall have three figures Noah praying, 
with the olive-branch in his hand, and the dove in the 
breast of a young girl who is looking at Noah. The other 
figure will be kissing the bird's breast. The background 
will be very novel, as I shall paint several birds and animals 
one of which now forms the prey to the other. 

" It is quite impossible to explain one's intentions in a 
letter ; so do not raise objections in your mind till you see it 
finished. I have a horrible influenza, which, however, has 
! 7 


not deterred me from the usual % heavy blow ' walks with 
Fra Carlo. ... I thought I had forgotten something the 
shields which you most kindly offered to do for me. I was 
not joking when I hinted to you that I should like to have 
them. If you are in earnest I shall be only too glad to hang 
them round my room, for I like them so much better than 
any paper, that when I have a house of my own you shall 
see every room decorated in that way. . . . 

"Yours devotedly, 


" The Flood " subject (a subject altogether different from 
that of another picture called "A Flood," painted by the 
artist in 1870) was never completed as an oil picture, 
although he made a finished drawing of it, which is now 
in my possession, having been given to me by my mother. 

As will be seen from his letter to Mr. Combe, " The 
Return of the Dove to the Ark" (otherwise known as "The 
Daughters of Noah," or "The Wives of the Sons of Noah") 
had the first place in his mind, and eventually he painted 
it at the house in Gower Street. It represents two girls 
(supposed to be inmates of the Ark) clad in simple garments 
of green and white, and caressing the dove. The picture 
was shown in the Academy of 1851, along with "The Wood- 
man's Daughter" and "Mariana," and was next exhibited 
in Paris in 1855 with "The Order of Release" and 
" Ophelia," when, says Mr. Stephens, " the three works 
attracted much attention and sharp discussion, which greatly 
extended Millais' reputation." It was again shown in the 
International Exhibition of 1862, as were also "Apple 
Blossoms," " The Order of Release," and " The Vale of 
Rest " ; and by Mr. Combe's will it has now become the 
property of the University of Oxford. 

On this subject my uncle, William Millais, writes : " The 
unbiased critic must be constrained to admit that if there 
is one thing to criticise in the paintings in these days of his 
glorious youth, it is the inelegance of one or two of the 
figures. The girls in ' The Return of the Dove ' and 
' Mariana ' are the two most noticeable examples, and I have 
heard the artist admit as much himself. The head of the 
little girl in ' The Woodman's Daughter,' which was altered 
after many years much for the worse, was in its original state 


distinctly charming, although rustic. It was only at the 
instance of the owner, his half-brother Henry Hodgkinson, 
that he at last consented to repaint (and spoil) to a con- 
siderable extent the whole picture for a slight inaccuracy 
in the drawing of one head and the arm and boots of the girl. 
It was a very great misfortune, for the work of the two 
periods has not ' blended ' as they have done so successfully 
in ' Sir Isumbras.' ' 

Millais' life in 1851, his hopes and ambitions, the pictures 
he painted, what was said of them and what became of them, 
are perhaps best related by himself in the following letters: 

To Mrs. Combe. 


"February io//z, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MRS. PAT, The brevity with which my 
troublesome request was executed astonished me, and I 
return you all the thanks due to so kind an attention. The 
pinafore will do beautifully, as also the boots. The ' Lyra 
Innocentium " I brought from Oxford at Christmas-time. 
I have given Collins the one directed for him. To-night 
I commence for the first time this year evening work which 
lasts till twelve, and which will continue for the next few 
months. I am now progressing rapidly ; the ' Mariana ' is 
nearly completed, and, as I expected, the gentleman to whom 
I promised the first refusal has purchased it. The Wood 
scene is likewise far advanced, and I hope to commence the 
Noah the latter part of this week. 

" I have had lately an order to paint St. George and the 
Dragon for next year. It is a curious subject, but I like it 
much, as it is the badge of this country. 

" I see Charley every night, and we dine alternate Sundays 
at each other's houses. To-night he comes to cheer me in 
my solitude. I give up all invitations, and scarcely ever see 
anybody. Have still got my cold, and do not expect that 
tenacious friend will take any notice of the lozenge warnings. 
. . . There is at this moment such a dreadful fog that I cannot 
see to paint, so I devote this leisure hour to you. Remember 
me affectionately to the Early Christian, and believe me most 
affectionately yours, 



To Mr. Combe. 


"April ist, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, I am sure you will never have 
cause to regret purchasing ' The Dove.' It is considered the 
best picture of the three by all the artists, and is preferred 
for the subject as well. It will be highly finished to the 
corners, and I shall design (when it returns from the 
Academy) a frame suitable to the subject olive leaves, and 
a dove at each corner holding the branch in its mouth. 

" I have designed a frame for Charles' painting of ' Lilies,' 
which, I expect, will be acknowledged to be the best frame 
in England. To get ' The Dove ' as good as possible, I shall 
have a frame made to my own design. 

" With regard to your remark on the payment, rest assured 
that when it suits you it suits me. If you had not got the 
picture a gentleman from Birmingham had decided on having 
it. One of the connoisseurs has made an offer to Mr. Farrer 
for the ' Mariana,' which he has declined, being determined 
to keep my paintings. This from such a dealer as Farrer, 
the first judge of art in England, proves the investment on 
such pictures to be pretty safe. 

" As soon as the pictures get into the Academy I shall 
be at leisure to give an account to Mrs. Pat of my later 

" Believe me, very sincerely yours, 


To the same. 


"April \yh, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, You must be prepared to see 
an immense literary assault on my works ; but I fancy some 
papers will give me all the credit the others withhold. To 
tell you the truth, artists know not what course to follow 
whether to acknowledge the truth of our style, or to stand 
out against it. Many of the most important have already 
(before me) admitted themselves in the wrong men whose 
reputation would suffer at the mention of their names ! 


" I would not ask anything for the copyright, as the en- 
graving will cost nearly five hundred pounds. That in itself 
is a great risk, particularly as it is the first I shall have en- 
graved. I shall not permit it to be published unless perfectly 
satisfied with the capabilities of the etcher. It is to be done 
entirely in line, without mezzotint. I am myself confident 
of its success ; but it is natural that men without the slightest 
knowledge should be a little shy of giving money for the 
copyright. * 

"It was very unfortunate that Charley [Collins] could not 
complete the second picture for the Exhibition. I tried all 
the encouraging persuasions in my power ; but he was beaten 
by a silk dress, which he had not yet finished. I have 
ordered another canvas to begin again next week, intending 
to take a holiday when the warmth conies. Such a quantity 
of loathsome foreigners stroll about the principal streets that 
they incline one to take up a residence in Sweden, outside of 
the fumes of their tobacco. I expect all respectable families 
will leave London after the first month of the Exhibition, it 
will be so crowded with the lowest rabble of all the countries 
in Europe. 

"Say all the kind things from me you, as a husband, may 
think fit to deliver to Mrs. Pat, and believe me, 

" Ever yours affectionately, 


To the same. 


"May gtJi, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, I received the shields this 
morning, and hasten to thank you most heartily. I hope 
to see them ranged round my studio next week. No doubt 
you have seen the violent abuse of my pictures in the 
Times, which I believe has sold itself to destroy us. That, 
however, is quite an absurd mistake of theirs, for, in spite 
of their denouncing my pictures as unworthy to hang on 
any walls, the famous critic, Mr. Ruskin, has written offering 
to purchase your picture of ' The Return of the Dove to 
the Ark.' I received his letter this morning, and have this 

* The picture ("The Dove") was never engraved, the woodcut only appearing 
in The Illustrated London News. 


evening made him aware of the previous sale. I have 
had more than one application for it, and you could, I have 
little doubt, sell it for as much again as I shall ask you. 

" There are few papers that speak favourably of me, as 
they principally follow the Times. For once in a way 
that great leader of public opinion will be slightly out in 
its conjectures. There are articles in the Spectator and 
Daily Neivs as great in praise as the others are in abuse. 

" Where are you, in London or Oxford ? Mrs. Pat's 
letter did not specify the locality. Remember me affec- 
tionately to her, and believe me, 

" Ever sincerely yours, 


To the same. 


"May io///, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, I think if your friend admires 
Charley's sketch he would be particularly charmed with the 
picture, and would never regret its purchase, as a work 
so elaborately studied would always (after the present panic) 
command its price, ^150. 

" Most men look back upon their early paintings for 
which they have received but poor remuneration as the 
principal instruments of their after wealth. For one great 
instance, see Wilkie's ' Blind Fiddler/ sold for ,20, now 
worth more than ^1000! Early works are also generally 
.the standard specimens of artists, as great success blunts 
enthusiasm, and little by little men get into carelessness, 
which is construed by idiotic critics into a nobler handling. 
Putting aside the good work of purchasing from those 
who require encouragement, such patrons will be respected 
afterwards as wise and useful men amongst knavish fools, 
who should be destroyed in their revolting attempts to 
crush us attempts so obviously malicious as to prove our 
rapid ascendancy. It is no credit to a man to purchase 
from those who are opulent and acknowledged by the 
world, so your friend has an opportunity for becoming one 
of the first-named wise patrons who shall, if we live, be 
extolled as having assisted in our (I hope) final success. 

" Hunt will, I think, sell his ; there is a man about it, 


and it is a very fine picture. My somewhat showmanlike 
recommendation of Collins' ' Nun ' is a pure matter of 
conscience, and I hope it will prove not altogether faulty. 

"Very sincerely yours, 

" Hunt wants ,300 for his picture." 

To Mrs. Combe. 



"MY DEAR MRS. COMBE, I feel it a duty to render you 
my most heartfelt thanks for the noble appreciation of my 
dear friend Collins' work and character. I include character, 
for I cannot help believing, from the evident good feeling 
evinced in your letter, that you have thought more of the 
beneficial results the purchase may occasion him than of 
your personal gratification at possessing the picture. 

"You are not mistaken in thus believing him worthy 
of your kindest interests, for there are few so devotedly 
directed to the one thought of some day (through the 
medium of his art) turning the minds of men to good 
reflections and so heightening the profession as one of 
unworldly usefulness to mankind. 


" This is our great object in painting, for the thought 
of simply pleasing the senses would drive us to other 
pursuits requiring less of that unceasing attention so neces- 
sary to the completion of a perfect work. 

" I shall endeavour in the picture I have in contemplation 
' For as in the Days that were Before the Flood,' etc., 
etc. to affect those who may look on it with the awful 
uncertainty of life and the necessity of always being pre- 
pared for death. My intention is to lay the scene at 
the marriage feast. The bride, elated by her happiness, 
will be playfully showing her w r edding-ring to a young girl, 
who will be in the act of plighting her troth to a man wholly 
engrossed in his love, the parents of each uniting in con- 
gratulation at the consummation of their own and their 
children's happiness. A drunkard will be railing boisterously 
at another, less intoxicated, for his cowardice in being some- 
what appalled at the view the open window presents flats 
of glistening water, revealing but the summits of mountains 




and crests of poplars. The rain will be beating in the face 
of the terrified attendant who is holding out the shutter, 
wall-stained and running down with the wet, but slightly 
as yet inundating the floor. There will also be the glutton 
quietly indulging in his weakness, unheeding the sagacity 
of his grateful dog, who, thrusting his head under his hands 
to attract attention, instinctively feels the coming ruin. Then 
a woman (typical of worldly vanity) apparelled in sumptuous 

. attire, withholding her robes 

from the contamination of his 
dripping hide. In short, all 
deaf to the prophecy of the 
Deluge which is swelling before 
their eyes all but one figure in 
their midst, who, upright with 
closed eyes, prays for mercy for 
those around her, a patient ex- 
ample of belief standing with, 
but far from, them placidly 
awaiting God's will. 

" I hope, by this great con- 
trast, to excite a reflection on 
the probable way in which 
sinners would meet the coming 
death all on shore hurrying 
from height to height as the 
sea increases ; the wretched self- 
conoratulations of the bachelor 


who, having but himself to 
save, believes in the prospect 
of escape ; the awful feelings of 
the husband who sees his wife 
and children looking in his face for support, and presently 
disappearing one by one in the pitiless flood as he miserably 
thinks of his folly in not having taught them to look to God 
for help in times of trouble ; the rich man who, with his boat 
laden with wealth and provisions, sinks in sight of his fellow- 
creatures with their last curse on his head for his selfishness ; 
the strong man's strength failing gradually as he clings to 
some fragment floating away on the waste of water ; and 
other great sufferers miserably perishing in their sins. 

" I have enlarged on this subject and the feelings that 
I hope will arise from the picture, as I know you will be 





interested in it. One great encouragement to me is the 
certainty of its having this one advantage over a sermon, 
that it will be all at once put before the spectator without that 
trouble of realisation often lost in the effort of reading or 

4< My pleasure in having indirectly assisted two friends in 
the disposal of their pictures is enhanced by the assurance 
that you estimate their merits. It is with extreme pleasure 


that I received that letter from Mr. Combe in which he 
approves of his picture of ' The Return of the Dove to the 
Ark,' universally acknowledged to be my best work, parts of 
which I feel incapable of surpassing. When you come to 
town I will show you many letters from strangers desirous of 
purchasing it, which is the best proof of its value in their eyes. 
The price I have fixed on my picture is a hundred and fifty 
guineas ; and I hope some day you will let me paint you, as 
a companion, "The Dove's First Flight," which would make 
a beautiful pendant. " Ever yours affectionately, 



" Mariana in the Moated Grange" was exhibited this year 
with the following quotation from Tennyson's well-known 

poem : 

" She only said, ' My life is dreary 

He cometh not,' she said : 
She said, ' I am aweary, aweary 
I would that I were dead.'" 

The picture represents Mariana rising to her full height 
and bending backwards, with half-closed eyes. She is weary 
of all things, including the embroidery-frame which stands 
before her. Her dress of deep rich blue contrasts with the 
red-orange colour of the seat beside which she stands. In 
the front of the figure is a window of stained glass, through 
which may be seen a sunlit garden beyond ; and in contrast 
with this is seen, on the right of the picture, an oratory, in 
the dark shadow of which a lamp is burning. 

Spielmann's observations on this work are not quite easy 
to understand. He says the subject is a " Rossettian one, 
without the Rossettian emotion." If so, the lack of 
emotion must be due rather to the poet than to the painter, 
for, referring to this picture in the Magazine of Art of 
September, 1896, he speaks of Millais' "artistic expression 
being more keenly sensitive to the highest forms of written 
poetry than any other painter of his eminence who ever 
appeared in England." He thinks, too, that the colour is 
too strong and gay to be quite in harmony with the subject, 
though immediately afterwards he quotes the particular lines 
which Millais souo-fit to illustrate : 


"... But most she loathed the hour 
When the thick-moated sunbeam lay 
Athwart the chambers, and the day 
Was sloping towards his Western bovver." 

The sun, then, was shining in all its splendour, and though 
poor Mariana loathed the sight, the objects it illuminated 
were none the less brilliant in colour. And so they appear 
in the picture. The shadows, too, are there in happy con- 
trast, and every object is seen in its true atmosphere, without 
any clashing of values. 

In the Times of May i3th, 1851, Ruskin noticed the 
picture in his characteristic manner. He was glad to see 
that Millais' " Lady in blue is heartily tired of painted 

fr The critic, too, seems to forget that all Rossetti's emotional subjects were 
painted years later. 

"MARIANA." 1851 
By permission of Mr. Henry Makins 

i8 5 i] AN OBLIGING MOUSE 109 

windows and idolatrous toilet-table," but maintained generally 
that since the days of Albert Durer no studies of draperies 
and details, nothing so earnest and complete, had been 
achieved in art a judgment which, says Spielmann, "as 
regards execution, will hardly be reversed to-day." With 
delightful inconsequence, Ruskin afterwards added that, had 
Millais "painted Mariana at work in an unmoated grange, 
instead of idle in a moated one, it had been more to the 
purpose, whether of art or life." 

The picture was sold to Mr. Farrer, the dealer, for one 
hundred and fifty pounds, and after passing successively 
through the hands of Mr. B. Windus and Mr. J. M. 
Dunlop, it now rests with Mr. Henry Makins, who also 
owns "Ferdinand" and "For the Squire." 

During the execution of this work Millais came down 
one day and found that things were at a standstill owing 
to the want of a model to paint from. He naturally disliked 
being stopped in his work in this way, and the only thing 
he could think of was to sketch in the mouse that 

" Behind the mouldering wainscot shrieked, 
Or from the crevice peer'd about." 

But where was the mouse to paint from? Millais' father, 
who had just come in, thought of scouring the country in 
search of one, but at that moment an obliging mouse ran 
across the floor and hid behind a portfolio. Quick as 
lightning Millais gave the portfolio a kick, and on removing 
it the poor mouse was found quite dead in the best possible 
position for drawing it.* 

The window in the background of "Mariana" was taken 
from one in Merton Chapel, Oxford. The ceiling of the 
chapel was being painted, and scaffolding was of course put 
up, and this Millais made use of whilst working. The scene 
outside was painted in the Combes' garden, just outside their 

Of all the pictures ever painted, there is probably none 
more truly Pre-Raphaelite in character than one I have 
already mentioned '' The Woodman's Daughter." It was 
painted in 1850 in a wood near Oxford, and was exhibited 
in 1851. Every blade of grass, every leaf and branch, and 

* A similar incident, in which the wished-for model actually appeared at the 
very moment when its presence was most desired, occurred some years later, when 
a collie dog suddenly turned up to serve as a model in " Blow, blow, thou Winter 


every shadow that they cast in the sunny wood is presented 
here with unflinching realism and infinite delicacy of detail. 
Yet the figures are in no way swamped by their surroundings, 
every accessory taking its proper place, in subordination to 
the figures and the tale they have to tell. The contrast 
between the boy the personification of aristocratic refine- 
ment and the untutored child of nature is very striking, 
as was no doubt intended by Mr. Coventry Patmore, whose 
poem, "The Tale of Poor Maud," daughter of Gerald the 
woodman, the picture was intended to illustrate. 

" Her tale is this : In the sweet age, 

When Heaven 's our side the lark, 
She used to go with Gerald where 

He work'd from morn to dark, 
For months, to thin the crowded groves 

Of the ancient manor park. 

" She went with him to think she help'd ; 

And whilst he hack'd and saw'd 
The rich Squire's son, a young boy then, 

Whole mornings, as if awed, 
Stood silent by, and gazed in turn 

At Gerald and on Maud. 

" And sometimes, in a sullen tone, 

He 'd offer fruits, and she 
Received them always with an air 

So unreserved and free, 
That shame-faced distance soon became 


William Millais contributes the following note on this 
painting : 

" I think, perhaps, the most beautiful background ever 
painted by my brother is to be found in his picture of ' The 
Woodman's Daughter' a copse of young oaks standing in 
a tangle of bracken and untrodden underwood, every plant 
graceful in its virgin splendour. 

" Notice the exquisitely tender greys in the bark of the 
young oak in the foreground, against which the brilliantly 
clothed lordling is leaning. Every touch in the fretwork 
tracery all about it has been caressed by a true lover of his 
art, for in these his glorious early days one can see that not 
an iota was slurred over, but that every beauty in nature met 
with its due appreciation at his hands. 

" Eye cannot follow the mysterious interlacing of all the 
wonderful green things that spring up all about, where every 
kind of woodgrowth seems to be striving to get the upper 


hand and to reach the sunlight first, where every leaf and 
tendril stands out in bold relief. 

"This background was painted near Oxford, in a most 
secluded spot, and yet my brother had a daily visitor ' a 
noble lord of high degree ' who used to watch him w r ork for 
a minute or two, make one remark, ' Well, you are getting 
on ; you 've plenty of room yet,' and then silently disappear. 
After a time these visits ceased, and upon their renewal my 
brother had in the interim almost finished the background. 
The visitor, on seeing his work, exclaimed, ' Why, after all, 
you 've not got it in ! ' My brother asked what it was. 
' Why, Oxford, of course ! You should have put it in.' 
Millais, who had his back to the town, explained that al- 
though Art could do wonders, it had never yet been able to 
paint all round the compass." 

To be near his work on this picture Millais stayed in the 
cottage of a Mrs. King, at Botley, Lord Abingdon's park, 
where he was joined by his friend Charles Collins. 

Mr. Arthur Hughes writes : " F. G. Stephens has de- 
scribed to me how he was with Millais in the country when 
painting ' The Woodman's Daughter ' (the subject from 
Coventry Patmore), and how Millais was painting a small 
feather dropped from a bird in the immediate foreground ; 
how he stamped and cursed over it, and then scraped it out 
and swore he would get it right and did. 

" The strawberries which appear in the picture, as pre- 
sented by the young aristocrat, were bought in Covent 
Garden in March. ' I had to pay five-and-sixpence for the 
four a vast sum for me in those days, but necessary ' I 
have heard him say, 'and Charlie Collins and I ate them 
afterwards with a thankful heart.' " 

It was in this year (1851) that Ruskin took up arms in 
defence of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and no more 
earnest or more eloquent advocate could they have desired. 
In the first volume of Modern Painters he insisted that 
" that only is a complete picture which has both the general 
wholeness and effect of Nature and the inexhaustible per- 
fection of Nature's details " ; and, pointing to " the admirable, 
though strange pictures of Mr. Millais and Mr. Hoi man 
Hunt" as examples of progress in this direction, he added, 
"they are endeavouring to paint, with the highest possible 
degree of completion, what they see in Nature, without refer- 
ence to conventional or established rules ; but bv no means 


to imitate the style of any past epoch. Their works are, 
in finish of drawing and in splendour of colour, the best 
in the Royal Academy, and I have great hope that they 
may become the foundation of a more earnest and able 
school of Art than we have seen for centuries." 

Here was a heavy blow to the Philistines of the Press ; 
for at this time Ruskin was all but universally accepted as 
the final authority in matters of Art. But a heavier yet 
was in store for them. In an addendum to one of his 
published Lectures on Architecture and Painting lectures 
delivered at Edinburgh in November, 1853 he declared 
that " the very faithfulness of the Pre-Raphaelites arises 
from the redundance of their imaginative power. Not only 
can all the members of the [Pre-Raphaelite] School compose 
a thousand times better than the men who pretend to look 
down upon them, but I question whether even the greatest 
men of old times possessed more exhaustless invention than 
either Millais or Rossetti. . . . As I w r as copying this 
sentence a pamphlet was put into my hand, written by a 
clergyman, denouncing, ' Woe, woe, woe, to exceedingly 
young men of stubborn instincts calling themselves Pre- 
Raphaelites.' I thank God that the Pre-Raphaelites are 
young, and that strength is still with them, and life, with 
all the war of it, still in front of them. Yet Everett Millais, 
in this year, is of the exact age at which Raphael painted 
the ' Disputa,' his greatest work ; Rossetti and Hunt are 
both of them older still ; nor is there one member so young 
as Giotto when he was chosen from among the painters to 
decorate the Vaticum of Italy. But Italy, in her great 
period, knew her great men, and did not despise their youth. 
It is reserved for England to insult the strength of her 
noblest children, to wither their warm enthusiasm early 
into the bitterness of patient battle, and to leave to those 
whom she should have cherished and aided no hope but 
in resolution, no refuge but in disdain." 

Thus spoke the oracle in 1853, nor (as will presently 
appear) was his zeal abated in 1855, when "The Rescue" 
was exhibited, or in 1856, when "Peace Concluded" ap- 
peared on the Academy walls. But, strange to say, after 
that period works of Millais, executed with equal care and 
with the same fastidious regard for details (the lovely " Vale 
of Rest " and " Sir Isumbras " for instance), were condemned 
by him in unmeasured terms. 


I. 8 


Millais commences "Ophelia" Holman Hunt, Charles Collins, William and John 
Millais paint at Worcester Park Farm Further letters to the Combes Millais 
thinks of going to the East Commencement of diary and "The Huguenot" 
Hunt at work on "The Light of the World" and "The Hireling Shepherd" 
Collins' last picture Millais' idea for "The Huguenot" He argues it out 
with Hunt Meets an old sweetheart Returns to Gower Street Miss Siddal's 
sufferings as model for "Ophelia" Success of "Ophelia" Arthur Hughes 
and Millais Critics of 1852 Woman in art General Lempriere on his 
sittings for "The Huguenot" Miss Ryan Miller, of Preston Letters from 
Gower Street. 

OPHELIA" and "The Huguenot," both of which 
Millais painted during the autumn and winter of 
1851, are so familiar in every English home that I need 
not attempt to describe them here. The tragic end of 
"Hamlet's" unhappy love had long been in his mind as a 
subject he should like to paint ; and now while the idea was 
strong upon him he determined to illustrate on canvas the 
lines in which she is presented as floating down the stream 
singing her last song : 

" There on the pendent boughs her coronet of weeds 
Clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke ; 
When down the weedy trophies and herself 
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide, 
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up ; 
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes, 
As one incapable of her own distress, 
Or like a creature native and indued 
Unto that element ; but long it could not be, 
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, 
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay 
To muddy death."* 

Near Kingston, and close to the home of his friends the 
Lemprieres, is a sweet little river called the Ewell, which 
flows into the Thames. Here, under some willows by the 
side of a hayfielcl, the artist found a spot that was in every 

* Hamlet, act iv. 


way suitable for the background of his picture, in the month 
of July, when the river flowers and water- weeds were in full 
bloom. Having selected his site, the next thing" was to 
obtain lodgings within easy distance, and these he secured 
in a cottage near Kingston, with his friend Holman Hunt as 
a companion. They were not there very long, however, for 
presently came into the neighbourhood two other members of 
the Pre-Raphaelite fraternity, bent on working together ; and, 
uniting with them, the two moved into Worcester Park Farm, 


where an old garden wall happily served as a background 
for the " Huo-uenot," at which Millais could now work 


alternately with the "Ophelia." 

It was a jolly bachelor party that now assembled in the 
farmhouse Holman Hunt, Charlie Collins, William and 
John Millais all determined to work in earnest ; Holman 
Hunt on his famous " Light of the World " and " The Hire- 
ling Shepherd," Charlie Collins at a background, William 
Millais on water-colour landscapes, and my father on the 
backgrounds for the two pictures he had then in hand. 

From ten in the morning till dark the artists saw little of 
each other, but when the evenings " brought all things home " 
they assembled to talk deeply on Art, drink strong tea, and 
discuss and criticise each other's pictures. 

Fortunately a record of these interesting days is preserved 
to us in Millais' letters to Mr. and Mrs. Combe, and his diary 
the only one he ever kept which was written at this time, 
and retained by my uncle William, who has kindly placed it 
at my disposal. Here are some of his letters the first of 
which I would commend to the attention of Max Nordau, 
referring as it does to Ruskin, whom Millais met for the first 
time in the summer of this year. It was written from the 
cottage near Kingston before Millais and Hunt removed to 
Worcester Park Farm. 

To Mrs. Combe. 


"July 2nd, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MRS. COMBE, I have dined and taken breakfast 
with Ruskin, and we are such good friends that he wishes 
me to accompany him to Switzerland this summer. . . . We 
are as yet singularly at variance in our opinions upon Art. 


One of our differences is about Turner. He believes that I 
shall be converted on further acquaintance with his works, 
and I that he will gradually slacken in his admiration. 

"You will see that I am writing this from Kingston, where 
I am stopping, it being near to a river that I am painting for 
'Ophelia.' We get up (Hunt is with me) at six in the 
morning, and are at work by eight, returning home at seven 
in the evening. The lodgings we have are somewhat better 
than Mistress King's at Botley, but are, of course, horribly 
uncomfortable. We have had for dinner chops and suite 
of peas, potatoes, and gooseberry tart four days running. 
We spoke not about it, believing in the certainty of some 
change taking place ; but in private we protest against 
the adage that ' you can never have too much of a good 
thing.' The countryfolk here are a shade more civil than 
those of Oxfordshire, but similarly given to that wondering 
stare, as though we were as strange a sight as the hippo- 
potamus. * 

''My martyrdom is more trying than any I have hitherto 
experienced. The flies of Surrey are more muscular, and 
have a still greater propensity for probing human flesh. Our 
first difficulty was ... to acquire rooms. Those we now 
have are nearly four miles from Hunt's spot and two from 
mine, so we arrive jaded and slightly above that temperature 
necessary to make a cool commencement. I sit tailor-fashion 
under an umbrella throwing a shadow scarcely larger than a 
halfpenny for eleven hours, with a child's mug within reach to 
satisfy my thirst from the running stream beside me. I am 
threatened with a notice to appear before a magistrate for 
trespassing in a field and destroying the hay ; likewise by the 
admission of a bull in the same field after the said hay be 
cut ; am also in danger of being blown by the wind into the 
water, and becoming intimate with the feelings of Ophelia 
when that lady sank to muddy death, together with the (less 
likely) total disappearance, through the voracity of the flies. 
There are two swans who not a little add to my misery by 
persisting in watching me from the exact spot I wish to 
paint, occasionally destroying every water-weed within their 

* It was in this year, 1850, that the first specimen of the hippopotamus was 
seen in London. MMlais seems to have been of the same opinion as Lord 
Macaulay, who says : " I have seen the hippopotamus, both asleep and awake ; 
and I can assure you that, awake or asleep, he is the ugliest of the works 
of God." 





reach. My sudden perilous evolutions on the extreme bank, 
to persuade them to evacuate their position, have the effect of 
entirely deranging my temper, my picture, brushes, and 
palette ; but, on the other hand, they cause those birds to look 
most benignly upon me with an expression that seems to 
advocate greater patience. Certainly the painting of a 
picture under such circumstances would be a greater punish- 
ment to a murderer than hanging. 

" I have read the Sheep/olds, but cannot give an opinion 


upon it yet. I feel it very lonely here. Please write before 
my next. 

" My love to the Early Christian and remembrances to 
friends. Very affectionately yours, 



To Mrs. Coinbe. 


"July, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MRS. PAT, I have taken such an aversion 
to sheep, from so frequently having- mutton chops for dinner, 
that I feel my very feet revolt at the proximity of woollen 
socks. Your letter received to-day was so entertaining that 
I (reading and eating alternately) nearly forgot what I was 
devouring. This statement will, I hope, induce Mr. Combe 
to write to me as a relish to the inevitable chops. The 
steaks of Surrey are tougher than Brussels carpets, so they 
are out of the question. 

" We are getting on very soberly, but have some 
suspicions that the sudden decrease of our bread and butter 
is occasioned by the C - family (under momentary aber- 
ration) mistaking our fresh butter for their briny. To 
ascertain the truth, we intend bringing our artistic capacity 
to bear upon the eatables in question by taking a careful 


drawing of their outline. Upon their reappearance we shall 
refer to the portraits, and thereby discover whether the steel 
of Sheffield has shaven their features. [This they did and 
made sketches of the butter.] Hunt is writing beside me 
the description of (his) your picture. He has read Ruskin's 
pamphlet, and with me is anxious to read Dyce's reply, 
which I thank you for ordering. In the field where I am 
painting there is hay-making going on ; so at times I am 
surrounded by women and men, the latter of which remark 
that mine is a tedious job, that theirs is very warm work, 
that it thundered somewhere yesterday, that it is likely we 
shall have rain, and that they feel thirsty, very thirsty. An 
uneasiness immediately comes over me ; my fingers tingle 
to bestow a British coin upon the honest yoemen to get rid 
of them ; but no, I shall not indulge the scoundrels after 
their rude and greedy applications. Finding hints move me 
not, they boldly ask for money for a drop of drink. In the 
attitude of Napoleon commanding his troops over the Alps, 
I desire them to behold the river, the which I drink. Then 
comes a shout of what some writers would call honest 
country laughter, and I, coarse brutality. Almost every 
morning Hunt and I give money to children ; so all the 
mothers send their offspring (amounting by appearance to 
twelve each) in the line of our road ; and in rank and file 
they stand curtsying with flattened palms ready to receive 
the copper donation. This I like ; but men with arms larger 
round than my body hinting at money disgusts me so much 
that I shall paint some day (I hope) a picture laudatory 
of Free Trade. 

" Good-night to yourself and Mr. Combe ; and believe 
that I shall ever remain 

"Most faithfully yours, 


To Mrs. Combe. 


"July 2Wi, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MRS. COMBE, Many thanks for Dyce's 
answer, which I received yesterday, and as yet have read 
but little, and that little imperfectly understand. 

" In answer to your botanical inquiries, the flowering rush 


grows most luxuriantly along the banks of the river here, 
and I shall paint it in the picture ['Ophelia']. The other 
plant named I am not sufficiently learned in flowers to know. 
There is the dog-rose, river-daisy, forget-me-not, and a kind 
of soft, straw-coloured blossom (with the word ' sweet ' in 
its name) also growing on the bank ; I think it is called 

" I am nightly working my brains for a subject. Some 
incident to illustrate patience I have a desire to paint. 
When I catch one I shall write you the description. 

' : I enclose Hunt's key to the missionary picture, with 
apologies from him for not having sooner prepared it. 
Begging you to receive his thanks for your kind invitation, 
believe me, with affectionate regards to Mr. Combe, 
" Most truly yours, 


To Mrs. Combe. 


"September, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MRS. COMBE, You will see by the direction 
that we have changed our spot, and much for the better. 
Nothing can exceed the comfort of this new place. Little 
to write about except mishaps that have occurred to me. 

" I have broken the nail of the left-hand little finger 
off at the root ; the accident happened in catching a ball 
at cricket. I thought at first the bone was broken, so I 
moved off at once to a doctor, who cut something, and said 
I should lose the nail. I have been also bedridden three 
days from a bilious attack, from which, through many drugs, 
I am recovered. 

" We all three live together as happily as ancient monastic 
brethren. Charley [Collins] has immensely altered, scarcely 
indulging in an observation. I believe he inwardly thinks 
that carefulness of himself is better for his soul. Outwardly 
it goes far to destroy his society, which now, when it 
happens that I am alone with him, is intolerably unsym- 
pathetic. I wish you could see this farm, situated on one 
of the highest hills in this county. In front of the house 
there is one of the finest avenues of elm trees I ever saw. 

"We live almost entirely on the produce of the farm, 


which supplies every necessary. Collins scarcely ever eats 
pastry ; he abstains, I fancy, on religious principles. 

'' Remember me affectionately to the mother who pampers 
him, and believe me 

" Most affectionately yours, 


70 Mr. Combe. 


" October i$th, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, You must have felt sometimes 
quite incapable of answering a letter. Such has been my 
state. I have made two fruitless attempts, and shudder 
for the end of this. Hunt and self are both delighted 
by your letter, detecting in it a serious intent to behold 
us plant the artistic umbrella on the sands of Asia. He 
has read one of the travels you sent us, The Camp and 
the Caravan, and considers the obstacles as trifling and 
easy to be overcome by three determined men, two of whom 
will have the aspect of ferocity, being bearded like the pard. 
Hunt can testify to the fertility of my upper lip, which 
augurs well for the under soil. It therefore (under a tropical 
sun) may arrive at a Druidical excellence. 

" Two of the children belonging to the house have come 
in and will not be turned out. I play with them till dinner 
and resume work again afterwards. The weather to-day 
has prevented my painting out of doors, so I comfortably 
painted from some flowers in the dining-room. Hunt walked 
to his spot, but returned disconsolate and wet through. 
Collins worked in his shed and looked most miserable ; he 
is at this moment cleaning his palette. Hunt is smoking 
a vulgar pipe. He will have the better of us in the Holy 
Land, as a hookah goes with the costume. I like not the 
prospect of scorpions and snakes, with which I foresee 
we shall get closely intimate. Painting on the river's bank 
(Nile or Jordan) as I have done here will be next to 
throwing oneself into the alligators' jaws, so all water- 
sketching is put aside. Forgive this nonsensible scribble. 
I am only capable of writing my very kindest remembrances 
to Mrs. Pat, in which Charley and Hunt join. 
" Most faithfully yours, 



At this time Millais had serious thoughts of going- to the 
East with Hunt, but eventually gave up the idea. 

And now commences the diary, written closely and care- 
fully on sheets of notepaper. The style savours somewhat 
of the conversation of Mr. Jingle ; but, as in that gentle- 
man's short and pithy sentences, the substance is clear. 


" I am advised by Coventry Patmore to keep a diary. 
Commence one forthwith. To-day, October \6tk, 1851, 
worked on my picture ['The Huguenot']; painted nastur- 
tiums ; saw a stoat run into a hole in the garden wall ; went 
up to it and endeavoured to lure the little beast out by 
mimicking a rat's or mouse's squeak not particular which. 
Succeeded, to my astonishment. He came half out of the 
hole and looked in my face, within easy reach. 

" Lavinia (little daughter of landlady) I allowed to sit 
behind me on the box border and watch me paint, on 
promise of keeping excessively quiet ; she complained that 
her seat struck very cold. In the adjoining orchard, boy 
and family knocking down apples ; youngest sister but one 
screaming. Mother remarked, ' I wish you were in Heaven, 
my child ; you are always crying ' ; and a little voice behind 
me chimed in, 'Heaven! where God lives?' and (turning 
to me) ' You can't see God.' Eldest sister, Fanny, came 
and looked on too. Told me her mother says, about a 
quarter to six, 'There's Long-limbs (J. E. M.) whistling for 
his dinner; be quick and get it ready.' Played with children 
en masse in the parlour before their bedtime. Hunt just 
come in. ... Sat up till past twelve and discovered first- 
rate story for my present picture. 

"October \*]th. Beautiful morning: frost on the barn 
roofs and the green before the houses. Played with the 
children after breakfast, and began painting about nine. 
Baby screaming commenced about ten o'clock. Exhibition 
of devilish passion, from which it more particularly occurred 
to me that we are born in sin. Family crying continually, 
with slight intermission to recover strength. Lavinia beaten 
and put under the garden clothes-pole for being naughty, to 
stay there until more composed. Perceiving that to be an 
uncertain period, I kissed her wet eyes and released her 
from her position and sat her by me. Quite dumb for some 


time ; suddenly tremendously talkative. These are some of 
her observations : ' We haven't killed little Betsy (the pig) 
yet ; she means to have little pigs herself. Ann (the 
servant) says she is going to be your servant, and me your 
cook, when you get married.' Upon asking her whether 
she could cook, she answered, ' Not like the cooks do.' At 
five gave up painting. Bitter cold. Children screaming 

" October i%t/i. Fine sunny morning. Ate grapes. Little 
Fanny worked at a doll's calico petticoat on a chair beside 
me. Driven in by drizzling weather, I work in the parlour ; 
Fanny, my companion, rather troublesome. Coaxed her out. 
Roars of laughter outside the window F. flattening her 
nose against the pane. Mrs. Stapleton called, with married 
son and daughter, and admired my pictures ecstatically. 
Collins gone ; went home after dinner. Sat with Hunt in 
the evening ; pelted at a candle outside with little white 
balls that grow on a shrub. Composed design of ' Repentant 
Sinner laying his head in Christ's bosom.' 4 

" October igtk (Sunday). Expected Rossetti, who never 
came. Governor [his father] spent the day with us, saw 
Hunt's picture and mine, and was delighted with them. 
Went to church. Capital sermon. Poor Mr. Lewis felt 
very gloomy all the day ; supposed it to be the weather, 
that being dull and drizzling. . . . Found two servants 
of Captain Shepherd both very pretty one of whom I 
thought of getting to sit for my picture. Traversing the 
same road home, entered into conversation with them. Both 
perfectly willing to sit, and evidently expecting it to be an 
affair of a moment- one suggesting a pencil-scratch from 
which the two heads in our pictures could be painted ! Bade 
them good-night, feeling certain they will come to the farm 
to-morrow for eggs or cream. Went out to meet Collins, 
but found we were too early, so came home and had tea. 
I (too tired to go out again) sit down and write this, whilst 
Hunt sets out once more with a large horn-lantern. Despair 
of ever gaining my right position, owing to hearing this day 
that the Committee of Judgment of the Great Exhibition 
have awarded a bronze medal in approbation of the most 
sickening horror ever produced, 'The Greek. Slave.' Collins 
returned with his hair cut as close as a man in a House of 

* This sketch, now in my possession, was never transferred to canvas. 


" October 2Qth. Finished flowers after breakfast, after 
which went out to bottom of garden and commenced brick 
wall. Received letter from James Michael complimentary, 
as containing a prediction that I shall be the greatest painter 
England ever produced. Felt languid all day. Finished 
work about five and went out to see Charley. Walked on 
afterwards to meet Hunt, and waited for him. In opening 
the gate entering the farm, met the two girls. Spoke further 
with one on the matter of sitting. 

"October 2\st. Painted from the wall and got on a great 
deal. Bees' nest in the planks at the side of the house, laid 
open by the removal of one of them for the purpose of 
smoking the inmates at night and getting the honey. Was 
induced by the carpenter to go up on the ladder to see 
what he called a curiosity. Did so, and got stung on the 
chin. ... I walked on to meet Hunt with Collins. Met 
him, with two Tuppers, who dined with us off hare. All 
afterwards saw the burning of the bees, and tasted the 
honey. . . . Read songs in the Princess. Have greater 
(if possible) veneration for Tennyson. 

" October 22nd. Worked in the warren opposite the wall, 
and got on well, though teased, while painting, by little 
Fanny, who persisted in what she called ' tittling ' me. . . . 
Hunt proposed painting, 'for a lark,' the door of a cupboard 
beside the fireplace. Mentioned it to the landlady, who gave 
permission, with the assurance that if she did not approve 
of it she should scrub it out. Completed it jointly about 
two o'clock in the morning. . . . 

" October 2$rd. Our landlady's marriage anniversary. 
Was asked by her some days back for the loan of our apart- 
ments to celebrate the event. ' If we were not too high 
they would be glad to see us.' 

" Painted on the wall ; the day very dull. A few trees 
shedding leaves behind me, spiders determinedly spinning 
webs between my nose and chin. . . . Joined the farmers 
and their wives. Two of them spoke about cattle and the 
new reaping-machine, complaining, between times, about 
the state of affairs. Supped with them ; derived some 
knowledge of carving a chicken from watching one do so. 
Went to bed rather late, and read In Memoriam, which 
produced a refining melancholy. Landlady pleased with 
painting on cupboard." 

Of this painting, by the way, my uncle, William Millais, 


has another and somewhat different tale to tell. He says : 
"Our landlady, Mrs. B., held artists to be of little account, 
and my brother exasperated her to a degree on one occasion. 
The day had been a soaking wet one. None of us had gone 
out, and we were at our wits' end to know what to do. Jack, 
at Hunt's suggestion, thought it would be a good joke to 
paint on one of the cupboard doors. There were two one 
on either side of the fireplace. Mrs. B. had gone to market. 
On coming into the room on her return, and seeing what had 
been done a picture painted on the cupboard door she 
was furious ; the door had only lately been ' so beautifully 
grained and varnished.' Hunt in vain tried to appease her. 
She bounced out of the room, saying she w r ould make them 
pay for it. 

' ; It happened on the following day that the Vicar and 
a lady called upon the young painters ; and on being shown 
into the sitting-room, Mrs. B. apologised for the ' horrid 
mess ' (as she called it) on the cupboard door. They 
inquired who had done it, and on being told that Mr. 
Millais was the culprit, the lady said she would give Mrs. B. 
in exchange for the door the lovely Indian shawl she had 
on ; so when the painters came in from their work, Mrs. B. 
came up cringingly to my brother and said the only thing 
he could do was to paint the other cupboard! He didn't 
paint the other door, but I believe Mrs. B. had the shawl." 

And now, in continuation of the " Diary," we read : 

" October 2^th. Another day, exactly similar to the 
previous. Felt disinclined to work. Walked with Hunt 
to his place, returned home about eleven, and commenced 
work myself, but did very little. Read Tennyson and Pat- 
more. The spot very damp. Walked to see Charlie about 
four, and part of the way to meet Hunt, feeling very 
depressed. After dinner had a good nap, after which read 
Coleridge -some horrible sonnets. In his Life they speak 
ironically of ' Christabel,' and highly of rubbish, calling it 

" October 2$th. Much like the preceding day. All went 
to Town after dinner ; called at Rossetti's and saw Madox 
Brown's picture ' Pretty Baa-lambs.' which is very beautiful. 
Rossetti low-spirited ; sat with him. 

" October 2bth, Sunday. Walked out with Hunt. Called 
upon Woolner and upon Mrs. Collins to get her to come 


and dine with us ; unwell, so unsuccessful. Felt very cross 
and disputable. Charlie called in the evening ; took tea, 
and then all three off to the country seat. 

" October 2jth. Dry day. Rose later than the others, 
and had breakfast by myself. Painted on the wall, but not 
so well ; felt uncomfortable all day. . . . 

" October 2$t/i. My man, Young, brought me a rat after 
breakfast. Began painting it swimming, when the governor 
made his appearance, bringing money, and sat with me 
whilst at work. After four hours rat looked exactly like 
a drowned kitten. Felt discontented. Walked with parent 
out to see Collins painting on the hill, and on, afterwards, 
to Young's house. He had just shot another rat and brought 
it up to the house. Again painted upon the head, and much 
improved. . . . My father and myself walked on to see 
Hunt, whose picture looks sweet beyond mention. 

" October 29^/2. Cleaned out the rat, which looked like 
a lion, and enlarged picture. After breakfast began ivy 
on the wall ; very cold, and my feet wet through ; at inter- 
vals came indoors and warmed them at the kitchen fire. 
Worked till half-past four ; brought all the traps in and 
read In Memoriam. 

" October $o/i. Felt uneasy ; could not paint out of doors, 
so dug up a weed in the garden path and painted it in the 
corner. . . . Went to bed early, leaving Hunt up reading 

'''October ^\st. Splendid morning. . . . Painted ivy on 
the wall, and got on a great deal. After tea, about half- 
past ten, went to see powder-mill man (Young's) to com- 
mission him to fetch Hunt's picture home. Sat in their 
watch-house with him and his brother, who eulogised a cat, 
lying before the fire, for its uncommon predilection to fasten 
on dogs' backs, also great ratting qualities. Returned home 
about eleven and read In Memoriam. Left Hunt up reading 

"November /\tk. Frightfully cold morning; snowing. 
Determined to build up some kind of protection against the 
weather wherein to paint. After breakfast superintended in 
person the construction of my hut made of four hurdles, like 
a sentry-box, covered outside with straw. Felt a ' Robinson 
Crusoe ' inside it, and delightfully sheltered from the wind, 
though rather inconvenienced at first by the straw, dust, and 
husks flying about my picture. Landlady came down to see 
i. 9 

3 o 



me, and brought some hot wine. Hunt painting obstinate 
sheep within call. . . . This evening walked out in the 
orchard (beautiful moonlight night, but fearfully cold) with 
a lantern for Hunt to see effect before finishing background, 
which he intends doing by moonlight. 

"-November ^th. Painted in my shed from ivy. Hunt 
at the sheep again. My man Young, who brought another 

rat caught in the gin and little 
disfigured, was employed by 
Hunt to hold down a wretched 
sheep, whose head was very 
unsatisfactorily painted, after 
the most tantalising exhibition 
of obstinacy. Evening passed 
off much as others. Read 
Browning's tragedy, Blot on the 
Scutcheon, and was astonished 
at its faithfulness to Nature 
and Shakespearian perfectness. 
Mr. Lewis, the clergyman of 
the adjoining parish, called, and 
kindly gave us an invitation 
to his place when we liked. 
Had met him at dinner at our 
parish curate's, Mr. Stapleton. 
"November 6///. Beautiful 
morning ; much warmer than 
yesterday. Was advised by 
Hunt to paint the rat, but felt 
disinclined. After much inward 
argument took the large box 

containing Ophelia's background out beside Hunt, who 
again was to paint the sheep. By lunch time had nearly 
finished rat most successfully. Hunt employed small im- 
pudent boy to hold down sheep. Boy not being strong 
enough, required my assistance to make the animal lie down. 
Imitated Young's manner of doing so, by raising it up off 
the ground and dropping it suddenly down. Pulled an 
awful quantity of wool out in the operation. Also painted 
ivy in the other picture. 

"November jt/i. After breakfast examined the rat [in the 
painting]. From some doubtful feeling as to its perfect 
portraiture determined to retouch it. Young made his ap- 

First idea 

i8 5 i] 


pearance apropos, with another rat, and (for Hunt) a new 
canvas from the carrier at Kingston. Worked very care- 
fully at the rat, and finally succeeded to my own and 
everyone's taste. Hunt was painting in a cattle-shed from 
a sheep. Letters came for him about three. In opening 
one we were most surprised and delighted to find the 
Liverpool Academy (where his ' Two Gentlemen of Verona ' 
picture is) sensible enough to 
award him the annual prize 
of 50. He read the good 
news and painted on unruffled. 
The man Young, holding a 
most amicable sheep, expressed 
surprising pleasure at the for- 
tunate circumstance. He said 
he had seen robins in the 
spring of the year fight so 
fiercely that they had allowed 
him to take them up in his 
hands, hanging on to each 
other. During the day Hunt 
had a straw hut similar to 
mine built, to paint a moon- 
light background to the fresh 
canvas. Twelve o'clock. Have 
this moment left him in it, 
cheerfully working by a lantern 
from some contorted apple 
tree trunks, washed with the 
phosphor light of a perfect 
moon the shadows of the 
branches stained upon the sward. Steady sparks of moon- 
struck dew. Went to bed at two o'clock. 

"November %th. Got up before Hunt, who never went 
to bed till after three. Painted in my hut, from the ivy, 
all day. After dinner Collins went off to town. Hunt 
again painting out of doors. Very little of moonshine for 
him. . . . Advised H. to rub out part of background, which 
he did. 

"November qt/t, Sunday. Whilst dressing in the morning 
saw F. M. Brown and William Rossetti coming to us in the 
avenue. They spent the day with us. All disgusted with 
the Royal Academy election. . . . They left us for the train, 

Second idea 


for which they were too late, and returned to sleep here. 
Further chatted and went to bed. 

''November \ \tti. Lay thinking in bed until eleven o'clock. 
Painted ivy. Worked well ; Hunt painting in the same 
field ; sheep held down by Young. 

" November \6th, Sunday. To church with Collins ; Hunt, 
having sat up all night painting out of doors, in bed. After 
church found him still in his room ; awoke him and had 
breakfast with him, having gone without mine almost entirely, 
feeling obliged to leave it for church. Hunt and self went 
out to meet brother William, whom we expected to dinner. 
Met him in the park. He saw Hunt's picture for the first 
time, and was boundless in admiration ; also equally eulogised 
my ivy-covered wall. All three walked out before dinner. 
. . . In what they called the Round-house saw a chicken 
clogged in a small tank of oil. Young extricated it, and, 
together with engine-driver's daughter, endeavoured (fruit- 
lessly) to get the oil off. Left them washing fowl, and strolled 

''November i /th. Small stray cat found by one of the 
men, starved and almost frozen to death. Saw Mrs. Barnes 
nursing it and a consumptive chicken ; feeding the cat with 
milk. Painted at the ivy. Evening same as usual." 

Some further details are supplied in the following letter : 

To Mr. Combe. 


"November 17 tk, 1851. 

" MY DEAR COMBE, Doubtless you have been wondering 
whether it is my intention ever to let you have your own 
property [' The Dove ' picture]. We hope to return almost 
immediately, when I shall touch that which requires a little 
addition, and directly send it on to you, a letter preceding it 
to let you know. Hunt has gained the prize at Liverpool 
for the best picture in the exhibition there. The cold has 
become so intense that we fear it is impossible to further 
paint in the open air. We have had little straw huts built, 
which protect us somewhat from the wind, and therein till 
to-day have courageously braved the weather. 

"Carlo is still daily labouring at the shed, Hunt nightly 
working out of doors in an orchard painting moonlight 


(employed also in the daytime on another picture), and myself 
engaged in finishing another background (an ivy-covered 
wall). There is one consolation which strengthens our 
powers of endurance necessary for the next week. It is 
to behold the array of cases, which are the barns of our 
summer harvest, standing in our entrance hall. . . . 

" Very faithfully yours, 


At this time Charles Collins was engaged on the back- 
ground for a picture, the subject of which he had not yet 
settled upon. He got as far as placing upon the canvas 
an old shed with broken roof and sides, through which the 
sunlight streamed ; with a peep outside at leaves glittering 
in the summer breeze ; and at this he worked week after 
week with ever varying ideas as to the subject he should 
ultimately select. At last he found a beautiful one in the 
legend of a French peasant, who, with his family, outcast 
and starving, had taken refuge in the ruined hut and were 
ministered to by a saint. The picture, however, was never 
finished. Poor Collins gave up painting in despair and 
drifted into literature;* and when the end came, Holman 
Hunt, who was called in to make a sketch of his friend, was 
much touched to find this very canvas (then taken off the 
strainers) lying on the bed beside the dead man. The 
tragedy of vanished hopes! 

But I must now return to the " Diary." 

"November i8t/i. Little cat died in the night, also 
chicken. Painted ivy. In the afternoon walked to Ewell 
to procure writing-paper ; chopped wood for our fire, and 
found it warming exercise. 

"November i^tJi. Fearfully cold. Landscape trees upon 
my window-panes. After breakfast chopped wood, and after 
that painted ivy. . . . See symptoms of a speedy finish to 
my background. After lunch pelted down some remaining 
apples in the orchard. Read Tennyson and the Thirty-nine 
Articles. Discoursed on reliction. 


"November 2oth. Worked at the wall; weather rather 
warmer. . . . Evening much as usual. 

* Charles Collins was a regular contributor to Household Words, but is chiefly 
known by his Cruise on Wheels, a work which met with success. 


"November 2\st. Change in the weather cloudy and 
drizzling. All three began work after breakfast. Brother 
William came about one o'clock. After lunch found some- 
thing for him to paint. Left him to begin, and painted till 
four, very satisfactorily. 

"November 22nd. All four began work early. William 
left at five, promising to come again on Monday. . . . After 
dinner Hunt and Collins left for London, the former about 
some inquiries respecting an appointment to draw for 
Layard, the Nineveh discoverer. After they were gone, 
I wrote a very long letter to Mrs. Combe." 

The letter is perhaps worth insertion here, as showing the 
writer's attitude towards Romanism, which at that time 
he was supposed to favour, and as an indication of the 
general design of his picture, "The Huguenot." It ran 
thus : 

To Mrs. Combe. 


" November 22nd, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MRS. COMBE, My two friends have just gone 
to town, leaving me here all alone. I dine to-morrow 
(Sunday) with a very old friend of mine Colonel Lempriere 
resident in the neighbourhood, or else should go with 
them. Mr. Combe's letter reached me as mine left for 
Oxford. Assure him our conversation as often reverts to 
him as his thoughts turn to us in pacing the quad. The 
associates he derides have but little more capacity for 
painting than as many policemen taken promiscuously out 
of a division. 

" I have no Academy news to tell him, and but little 
for you from home. Layard, the winged-bull discoverer, 
requires an artist with him (salary two hundred a year) 
and has applied for one at the School of Design, Somerset 
House. Hunt is going to-night to see about it, as, should 
there be intervals of time at his disposal for painting pictures, 
he would not dislike the notion. One inducement to him 
would be that there, as at Jerusalem, he could illustrate 
Biblical history. Should the appointment require immediate 
filling, he could not take it, as the work he is now about 
cannot be finished till March. 

" My brother was with us to-day, and tolcl me that Dr. 

i8 5 i] "THE HUGUENOT' 135 

Hesse, of Leyton College, understood that I was a Roman 
Catholic (having been told so), and that my picture of 
' The Return of the Dove to the Ark ' was emblematical 
of the return of all of us to that religion a very convenient 
construction to put upon it ! I have no doubt that likewise 
they will turn the subject I am at present about to their 
advantage. It is a scene supposed to take place (as doubt- 
less it did) on the eve of the massacre of St. Bartholomew's 
Day. I shall have two lovers in the act of parting, the 
woman a Papist and the man a Protestant. The badge 
worn to distinguish the former from the latter was a white 
scarf on the left arm. Many were base enough to escape 
murder by wearing it. The girl will be endeavouring to 
tie the handkerchief round the man's arm, so to save him ; 
but he, holding his faith above his greatest worldly love, 
will be softly preventing her. I am in high spirits about 
the subject, as it is entirely my own, and I think contains the 
highest moral. It will be very quiet, and but slightly suggest 
the horror of a massacre. The figures will be talking against 
a secret-looking garden wall, which I have painted here. 

" Hunt's moonlight design is from the Revelation of St. 
John, chapter iii., 2Oth verse, ' Behold, I stand at the door 
and knock : if any man hear My voice, and open the door, 
I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with 
Me.' It is entirely typical, as the above. A figure of our 
Saviour in an orchard abundant in fruit, holding in one hand 
a light (further to illustrate the passage ' I am the Light 
of the world '), and the other hand knocking at a door 
all overgrown by vine branches and briars, which will show 
how rarely it has been opened. I intend painting a pendant 
from the latter part of the same, 'And will sup with him, 
and he with Me.' It is quite impossible to describe the 
treatment I purpose, so will leave you to surmise. 

" Now to other topics. We are occasionally visited by the 
clergyman of the adjoining parish, a Mr. Lewis. He was at 
Oriel, and knows Mr. Church, Marriot, and others that I 
have met. He is a most delightful man and a really sound 
preacher, and a great admirer and deplorer of Newman. 

"I cannot accompany 'The Dove' to the 'Clarendon,' 
as I have un-get-off-ably promised to spend Xmas with 
the family I feast with to-morrow. Captain Lempriere's. He 
is from Jersey, and knew me when living there, and I would 
not offend him. 




" Our avenue trees snow down leaves all day long, and 
begin to show plainly the branches. Collins still fags at the 
shed, Hunt at the orchard, and I at the wall. Right glad 
we shall all be when we are having our harvest home at 
Hanover Terrace, which we hope to do next Tuesday week. 
" Yours most faithfully 

" (at twelve o'clock), 


" Please send me a letter, or else I shall be jealous." 

Millais having in this letter 
stated his conception of " The 
Huguenot," it may be as well, 
perhaps, to describe here its 
actual o-enesis. 


After finishing the back- 
ground for "Ophelia," he began 
making sketches of a pair of 
lovers whispering by a wall, 
and having announced his in- 
tention of utilising them in a 
picture, he at once commenced 
painting the background, mere- 
ly leaving spaces for the figures. 
As may be gathered from what 
has been already said, both he 
and Hunt discussed together 
every picture which either of 
them had in contemplation ; 
and, discoursing on the new 
subject one evening in Septem- 
ber, Millais showed his pencil- 
drawings to Hunt, who strongly objected to his choice, 
saying that a simple pair of lovers without any powerful 
story, dramatic or historical, attaching to the meeting was 
not sufficiently important. It was hackneyed and wanting 
in general interest. "Besides," he quietly added, "it has 
always struck me as being the lovers' own private affair, and 
I feel as if we were intruding on so delicate an occasion by 
even looking at the picture. I protest against that kind of 
Art." Millais, however, was unconvinced, and stuck to his 
point, saying the subject would do quite well ; at any rate, 
he should go on working at "his wall." 

Third idea 

i8 5 i] 


In the evening, when the three friends were gathered 
together, poor Charlie Collins came in for more "chaff" 
than his sensitive nature could stand. He had refused some 
blackberry tart which had been served at dinner, and Millais, 
knowing that he was very fond of this dish, ridiculed his 
"mortifying the flesh" and becoming so much of an ascetic. 
It was bad for him, he said, and his health was suffering- in 


consequence ; to which he humorously added, that he thought 
Collins kept a whip upstairs and indulged in private flagel- 
lations. At last Collins re- 
treated to his room, and Millais, 
turning to Hunt, who had been 
quietly sketching the while, 
said, " Why didn't you back 
me up ? You know these un- 
healthy views of religion are 
very bad for him. We must 
try and get him out of them." 
l! I intend to leave them alone," 
replied the peaceful Hunt; 
"there's no necessity for us 
to copy him." A pause. 

"Well," said Millais, "what 
have you been doing all this 
time while I have been pitching 
into Charlie ?" 

Hunt showed him some 
rough sketches he had been 
making some of them being 
the first ideas for his famous 
picture, " The Light of the 

Millais was delighted with the subject, and looking at 
some other loose sheets on which sketches had been made, 
asked what they were for. 

"Well," replied Hunt, producing a drawing, "you will see 
now what I mean with regard to the lack of interest in a 


picture that tells only of the meeting or parting of two lovers. 
This incident is supposed to have taken place during the 
W T ars of the Roses. The lady, belonging to the Red Roses, 
is within her castle ; the lover, from the opposite camp, has 
scaled the walls, and is persuading her to fly with him. She 
is to be represented as hesitating between love and duty. 

Fourth idea 



You have then got an interesting subject, and I would paint 
it with an evening sky as a background." 

"Oh," exclaimed Millais, delighted, "that's the very thing 
for me ! I have got the wall already painted, and need only 
put in the figures." 

"But," said Hunt, "this is a castle wall. Your back- 
ground won't do." 

" That doesn't matter," replied Millais, " I shall make one 

of the lovers belonging to the 
Red and the other to the White 
Rose faction ; or one must be 
a supporter of King Charles 
and the other a Puritan." 

After much discussion Millais 
suddenly remembered the opera 
of The Huguenots, and be- 
thought him that a most 
dramatic scene could be made 
from the parting of the two 
lovers. He immediately began 
to make small sketches for 
the grouping of the figures, 
and wrote to his mother to 
go at once to the British Mu- 
seum to look up the costumes. 
Probably more sketches were 
made for this picture and for 
the " Black Brunswicker" than 
for any others of his works. 
I have now a number of them 
in my possession, and there 
must have been many more. 
They show that his first idea 
was to place other figures in the picture two priests holding 
up the crucifix to the Huguenot, whose sweetheart likewise 
adds her persuasions. Again, other drawings show a priest 
on either side of the lovers, holding up one of the great 
candles of the Roman Catholic Church, and the Protestant 
waving them back with a gesture of disapproval. These 
ideas, however, were happily discarded probably as savour- 
ing too much of the wholly obvious -and the artist wisely 
trusted to the simplicity of the pathos which marked the 
character of his final decision. 

Fifth and final composition for the picture 

By permission of H. Graves and Son 


It will be seen then that the picture was not (as has been 
publicly stated) the outcome of a visit to Meyerbeer's opera 
of The Hug2ienots ; though some time after Millais' decision 
he and Hunt went to the opera to study the pose and 
costumes of the figures. 

And now for some final extracts from the " Diary." 

" November 2$rd, Sunday.- Went to morning church ; felt 
disgusted with the world, and all longing for worldly glory 
going fast out of me. Walked, miserable, to Ewell to spend 
the day with my old friends the Lemprieres, who were at 
Sir John Reid's, opposite. Called there, and was received 
most kindly. From there went on to afternoon church. On 
our way met Mr. and Mrs. B , my old flame. Wished 
myself anywhere but there ; all seemed so horribly changed ; 
the girl 1 knew so well calling me 'Mr. Millais' instead of 
'John,' and I addressing 'Fanny' as 'Mrs. B .' She 
married a man old enough to be her father ; he, trying to 
look the young man, with a light cane in his hand. Walked 
over his grounds (which are very beautiful) and on to the 
new church, wherein the captain joined us, and shook hands 
most cordially with me. A most melancholy service over, 
all walked home. Mrs. B - distant, and with her mother. 
Mr. B - did not accompany us ; found him at the captain's 
house an apparently stupid man, plain and bald. Was 
perfectly stupefied by surprise at Mrs. B - asking me to 
make a little sketch of her ugly old husband. They left, 
she making, at parting, a bungling expression of gladness 
at having met me. Walked over the house and gardens 
(Ewell), where I had spent so many happy months. . . . 
Had a quiet dinner the captain, Mrs., Miss and Harry. In 
the evening drew Lifeguard on horseback [' Shaw, the Life- 
guardsman,' shown at the 1898 Exhibition] for little Herbert, 
and something for Emily. Left them with a lantern (the 
night being dark) to meet my companions at the station. 
Got there too early, and paced the platform, ruminating 
sorrowfully on the changes since I was there last. . . . 
Reached home wet through. Good fire, dry shoes, and bed. 

" November i<\th. Painted on brick wall. Mr. Taylor 
and his son (an old acquaintance of mine at Ewell), in the 
army, and six feet, came to see me. Both he and his father 
got double barrels ; pheasant in son's pocket. They saw my 
pictures, expressed pleasure, and in leaving presented me 
with cock bird. Lemprieres came. The parents and Miss 


thought my pictures beautiful. I walked with them to the 
gate at the bottom of the park, and there met Emma and 
Mrs. B out of breath. They had driven after the 
captain, also to see my landscape. Offered to show them 
again, but the father would not permit the trouble. Parted, 
promising to spend Christmas with them. Tried to resume 
painting. All then took usual walk. Hunt, during day, had 
a letter containing offer for his picture of ' Proteus.' He 
w T rote accepting it. ... 

"November I'&th. William came and w r orked at his 
sketch, and Sir John Reid called to see my pictures. Were 
both highly pleased. Took them to see Hunt's and Collins'. 
Mr. B - officious and revelling in snobbiness at having 
such distinguished persons at the farm. 

''November 2qt/i. All painted after breakfast Hunt at 
grass ; myself, having nearly finished the wall, went on to 
complete stalk and lower leaves of Canterbury-bell in the 
corner. Young, who was with Hunt, said he heard the stag- 
hounds out ; went to discover, and came running in in a state 
of frenzied excitement for us to see the hunt. Saw r about 
fifty riders after the hounds, but missed seeing the stag, it 
having got some distance ahead. Moralised afterwards, 
thinking it a savage and uncivilised sport. 

" November $ot/i, Sunday. All rose early to get in time 
for train at Ewell, to spend the day at Waddon. Were too 
late, so walked into Epsom, expecting there to meet a train. 
Found nothing before past one. Walked towards the downs, 
and to church at eleven, where heard very good sermon. 
Collins so pious in actions that he was watched by kind- 
looking man opposite. Very wealthy congregation. . . . 
Walked afterwards to Mrs. Hodgkinson's, but found she was 
too unwell to sit with us, so dined with her husband ; capital 
dinner. Sat with Mrs. H - in her bedroom, leaving them 
smoking downstairs, and took leave about half-past nine, Mr. 
Hodgkinson walking with us to station. 

'December ist. All worked ; bitter cold. William left us 
after dinner. Hunt read a letter from purchaser of his 
picture ; some money in advance enclosed in the same, and 
an abusive fragment of a note upon our abilities. Felt 
stupidly ruffled and bad-tempered. . . . 

"December yd. Hunt . . . painted indoors, and from 
the window worked at some sheep driven opposite ; I still 
at dandelions and groundsel. Kitten most playful about me ; 


laid in my lap whilst painting, but was aroused by a little 
field-mouse rustling near the box. Made a pounce upon, but 
failed in catching it. A drizzling rain part of the day. Cut 
a great deal of wood, to get warm. . . . Returned, and 
found a clerk from Chancery Lane lawyers in waiting upon 
me, who came to induce me to attend chambers and swear 
to my own signature upon Mr. Drury's will. Told him I 
could not attend earlier than next week. 

"December 4^/2. Painted the ground. Hunt expected Sir 
George Glynn (to see the pictures), who came, accompanied 
by his curate and another gentleman, about the middle of 
the day, and admired them much. Suggested curious altera- 
tions to both Collins' and Hunt's ; that C. should make 
the 'Two Women Grinding at the Mill' in an Arabian tent, 
evidently supposing that the subject was biblical instead of 
in futurity. After they were gone Hunt's uncle and aunt 
came, both of whom understood most gratifyingly every 
object except my water-rat, which the male relation (when 
invited to guess at it) eagerly pronounced to be a hare. 
Perceiving by our smile that he had made a mistake, a rabbit 
w r as next hazarded, after which I have a faint recollection of 
a dog or cat being mentioned by the spouse, who had brought 
with her a sponge-cake and bottle of sherry, of which we 
partook at luncheon. Mutual success and unblemished 
happiness was whispered over the wine, soon after which 
they departed in a pony-chaise. Laughed greatly over the 
day, H. and self. . . . 

" December $t/i. This clay hope to entirely finish my ivy 
background. Went down to the wall to give a last look. 
The day mild as summer ; raining began about twelve. 
Young came with a present of a bottle of catsup. William 
made his appearance about the same time, and told us of the 
brutal murdering going on again in Paris. He did not paint. 
Young brought a dead mole that was ploughed up in the 
field I paint in. Though somewhat acquainted with the form 
of the animal, was much surprised at the size and strength 
of its fore-hands. Finished, and chopped wood. ... In 
the evening Will slept, H. wrote letters, C. read the 
Bible, and self Shakespeare ; and, later, walked out with 
H. in the garden, it being such a calm, warm night. 
Requested landlady to send in bill, intending to leave to- 
morrow. Had much consultation about the amount neces- 
sary for her, in consideration of the many friends entertained 


by us. Felt, with Collins, a desire to sink into the earth and 
come up with pictures in our respective London studios." 

On the following day Millais returned to Gower Street, 
his backgrounds being now completed ; set to work at once 
on the figures in the two pictures, Miss Siddal (afterwards 
Mrs. D. G. Rossetti) posing as the model for " Ophelia." 
Mr. Arthur Hughes has an interesting note about this lady 
in The Letters of D. G. Rossetti to II illiaiu Alliughaiu. 
He says : 

" Deverell accompanied his mother one day to a milliner's. 
Through an open door he saw a girl working with her needle : 
he got his mother to ask her to sit to him. She was the 
future Mrs. Rossetti. Millais painted her for his 'Ophelia' 
wonderfully like her. She was tall and slender, with red, 
coppery hair and bright consumptive complexion, though in 
these early years she had no striking signs of ill-health. She 
had read Tennyson, having first come to know something 
about him by finding one or two of his poems on a piece of 
paper which she brought home to her mother wrapped round 
a pat of butter. Rossetti taught her to draw; she used to be 
drawing while sitting to him. Her drawings were beautiful, 
but without force. They were feminine likenesses of his own." 

Miss Siddal had a trying experience whilst acting as a 
model for "Ophelia." In order that the artist might get 
the proper set of the garments in water and the right 
atmosphere and aqueous effects, she had to lie in a large 
bath filled with water, which was kept at an even temperature 
by lamps placed beneath. One day, just as the picture was 
nearly finished, the lamps went out unnoticed by the artist, 
who was so intenselv absorbed in his work that he thought 

J O 

of nothing else, and the poor lady was kept floating in the 
cold water till she was quite benumbed. She herself never 
complained of this, but the result was that she contracted 
a severe cold, and her father (an auctioneer at Oxford) wrote 
to Millais, threatening him with an action for ^50 damages 
for his carelessness. Eventually the matter was satisfactorily 
compromised. Millais paid the doctor's bill; and Miss Siddal, 
quickly recovering, was none the worse for her cold bath. 

D. G. Rossetti had already fallen in love with her, struck 
with her "unworldly simplicity and purity of aspect" 
qualities which, as those who knew her bear witness, Millais 
succeeded in conveying to the canvas but it was not until 
1 860 that they married. 

i8 5 i] SUCCESS OF "OPHELIA" 145 

About the year 1873 "Ophelia" was exhibited at South 
Kensington ; and Millais, going one day to have a look at 
it, noticed at once that several of the colours he had used 
in 1851 had gone wrong notably the vivid green in the 
water- weed and the colouring of the face of the figure. 
He therefore had the picture back in his studio, and in 
a short time made it bloom again, as we see it to-day, as 
brilliant and fresh as when first painted. This is one of the 
great triumphs of his Pre-Raphaelite days. The colour, 
substance, and surface of his pictures have remained as 
perfect as the day they were put on. Nothing in recent 
Art, I venture to say, exceeds the richness, yet perfect 
harmony, of the colours of Nature in "Ophelia" and " The 
Blind Girl"; and the same thing may be said of "The 
Proscribed Royalist," "The Black Brunswicker," and the 
women's skirts in "The Order of Release"; whilst the 
man's doublet in "The Huguenot" and the woman's dress in 
"Mariana" are perhaps the most daring things of the kind 
ever attempted. 

Perhaps the greatest compliment ever paid to " Ophelia," 
as regards its truthfulness to Nature, is the fact that a certain 
Professor of Botany, being unable to take his class into the 
country and lecture from the objects before him, took them 
to the Guildhall, where this work was being exhibited, and 
discoursed to them upon the -flowers and plants before them, 
which were, he said, as instructive as Nature herself. 

Mr Spielmann is enthusiastic in his praise of the picture. 
He speaks of it as "one of the greatest of Millais' concep- 
tions, as well as one of the most marvellously and completely 
accurate and elaborate studies of Nature ever made by the 
hand of man. . . . The robin whistles on the branch, while 
the distraught Ophelia sings her own death-dirge, just as she 
sinks beneath the water with eyes wide open, unconscious 
of the danger and all else. It is one of the proofs of the 
greatness of this picture that, despite all elaboration, less 
worthy though still superb of execution, the brilliancy of 
colour, diligence of microscopic research, and masterly 
handling, it is Ophelia's face that holds the spectator, rivets 
his attention, and stirs his emotion." 

The picture passed successively through the hands of Mr. 
Farrer, Mr. B. Windus, and Mr. Fuller Maitland, before 
it came into the possession of Mr. Henry Tate, to whose 
generosity the public are indebted for its addition to the 

I. 10 


National Gallery of British Art. It was exceedingly well 
engraved by Mr. I. Stevenson in 1866. 

In the 1852 Exhibition, when both the "Ophelia" and 
"The Huguenot" were exhibited, there was another beautiful 
"Ophelia" by Millais' friend, Arthur Hughes, who is good 
enough to send me the following note about the two 
pictures : 

"One of the nicest things that I remember is connected 
with an ' Ophelia ' I painted, that was exhibited in the 
Academy at the same time as his [Millais'] own most 
beautiful and wonderful picture of that subject. Mine met 
its fate high up in the little octagon room ;* but on the 
morning of the varnishing, as I was going through the first 
room, before I knew where I was, Millais met me, saying, 
' Aren't you he they call Cherry ? ' (my name in the school). 
I said I was. Then he said he had just been up a ladder 
looking at my picture, and that it gave him more pleasure 
than any picture there, but adding also very truly that I had 
not painted the right kind of stream. He had just passed 
out of the Schools when I beo-an in them, and I had a most 


enormous admiration for him, and he always looked so 
beautiful tall, slender, but strong, crowned with an ideal 
head, and (as Rossetti said) 'with the face of an angel.' He 
could not have done a kinder thing, for he knew 1 should 
be disappointed at the place my picture had." 

"The Huguenot" was exhibited with the following title 
and quotation in the catalogue : " A Huguenot, on St. 
Bartholomew's Day, refusing to shield himself from danger 
by wearing the Roman Catholic badge. (See The Protestant 
Reformation in France, vol. ii., p. 352.) When the clock 
of the Palais de Justice shall sound upon the great bell 
at daybreak, then each good Catholic must bind a strip 
of white linen round his arm and place a fair white cross 
in his cap." (The Order of the Due de Guise.) 

Mr. Stephens says: "When 'A Huguenot' was exhibited 
at the Royal Academy, crowds stood before it all day long. 
Men lingered there for hours, and went away but to return. 
It had clothed the old feelings of men in a new garment, 
and its pathos found almost universal acceptance. This 
was the picture which brought Millais to the height of his 
reputation. Nevertheless, even ' A Huguenot ' did not 
silence all challengers. There were critics who said that 

* Commonly known to artists of the period as " The Condemned Cell." 

is 5 i] WOMAN IN ART 147 

the man's arm coulcl not reach so far round the lady's neck, 
and there were others, knowing little of the South, who 
carped at the presence of nasturtiums in August. It was 
on the whole, however, admitted that the artist had at 
last conquered his public, and must henceforth educate 

The picture is said to have been painted under a com- 
mission from a Mr. White (a dealer) for ^150; but, as a 
fact, Millais received ^250 for it, which was paid to him 
in instalments, and in course of time the buyer gave him 
^50 more, because he had profited much by the sale of 
the engraving. The dealers no doubt made immense sums 
out of the copyrights alone of "The Huguenot," "The 
Black Brunswicker," and " The Order of Release " ; while 
as to "The Huguenot" at least the poor artist had to wait 
many months for his money and to listen meanwhile to a 
chorus of fault-finding from the pens of carping scribblers, 
whose criticism, as is now patent to all the world, proved 
only their ignorance of the subject on which they were 
writing. In turn, every detail of the picture was objected 
to on one score or another, even the lady herself being 
remarked upon as "very plain." No paper, except Punch 
and the Spectator [William Rossetti], showed the slightest 
glimmering of comprehension as to its pathos and beauty, 
or foresaw the hold that it eventually obtained on the heart 
of the people. But Tom Taylor, the Art critic of Pimch 
at that time, had something more than an inkling of this, as 
may be seen in his boldly-expressed critique in Punch, vol. i. 
of 1852, pp. 216, 217. The women in "Ophelia" and "The 
Huguenot" were essentially characteristic of Millais' Art, 
showing his ideal of womankind as gentle, lovable creatures ; 
and, whatever Art critics may say to the contrary, this aim 
the portrayal of woman at her best is one distinctly of our 
own national school. As Millais himself once said, " It is 
only since Watteau and Gainsborough that woman has won 
her right place in Art. The Dutch had no love for women, 
and the Italians were as bad. The women's pictures by 
Titian, Raphael, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, and Velasquez are 
magnificent as works of Art ; but who would care to kiss 
such women ? Watteau, Gainsborough, and Reynolds were 
needed to show us how to do justice to woman and to 
reflect her sweetness." 

A sweeping statement like this is, of course, open to 


exceptions there are many notable examples in both 
French and Italian Art in which woman receives her due 
but in the main it is undoubtedly true. 

" The Huguenot" was the first of a series of four pictures 
embracing " The Proscribed Royalist," " The Order of 
Release," and "The Black Brunswicker," each of which 
represents a more or less unfinished story of unselfish love, 
in which the sweetness of woman shines conspicuous. 

The figure of the Huguenot (as I have said before) was 
painted for the most part from Mr. Arthur (now General) 
Lempriere an old friend of the family and afterwards 
completed with the aid of a model. 

Of his sittings to Millais during 1853, Major-General 
Lempriere kindly sends me the following: " It was a short 
time before I got my commission in the Royal Engineers 
in the year 1853 (when I was about eighteen years old) that 
I had the honour of sitting for his famous picture of ' The 
Huguenot.' If I remember right, he was then living with 
his father and mother in Bloomsbury Square. I used to 
go up there pretty often and occasionally stopped there. 
His father and mother were always most kind. 

" After several sittings I remember he was not satisfied 
with what he had put on the canvas, and he took a knife 
and scraped my head out of the picture, and did it all again. 
He always talked in the most cheery way all the time he 
was painting, and made it impossible for one to feel dull 
or tired. I little thought what an honour was being con- 
ferred on me, and at the time did not appreciate it, as I 
have always since. 

" I remember, however, so well his kindness in giving 
me, for having sat, a canary-bird and cage, and also a 
water-colour drawing from his portfolio ('Attack on Kenil- 
worth Castle '), which, with several others of his early 
sketches which I have, were exhibited at the Royal Academy 
of Arts after his death. 

" I was abroad, off and on, for some thirty years after I 
got my commission, and almost lost sight of my dear old 
friend. He, in the meantime, had risen so high in his 
profession that I felt almost afraid of calling on him. One 
morning, however, being near Palace Gate, I plucked up 
courage, and went to the house and gave my card to the 
butler, and asked him to take it in to Sir John, which 
he did ; and you can imagine my delight when Sir John 

i8 5 i] A PATRON OF ART 149 

almost immediately came out of his studio in his shirt- 
sleeves, straight to the front door, and greeted me most 

" I was most deeply touched, about a fortnight before he 
died, at his asking to see me, and when I went to his bed- 
side at his putting his arms round my neck and kissing me." 

A lovely woman (Miss Ryan) sat for the lady in "The 
Huguenot," Mrs. George Hodgkinson, the artist's cousin, 
taking her place upon occasion as a model for the left arm 
of the figure. Alas for Miss Ryan ! her beauty proved a 
fatal gift : she married an ostler, and her later history is a 
sad one. My father was always reluctant to speak of it, 
feeling perhaps that the publicity he had given to her beauty 
might in some small measure have helped (as the saying is) 
to turn her head. 

The picture was the first of many engraved by his old 
friend, Mr. T. O. Barlow, R.A., and exceedingly well it was 
done. It eventually became the property of Mr. Miller, of 
Preston, and now belongs to his son. As this orentleman 

c> O 

bought several of my father's works, and is so frequently 
mentioned hereafter, the description of him by Madox 
Brown in D. G. Rossetti's Letters may be of interest : 
"This Miller is a jolly, kind old man, with streaming white 
hair, fine features, and a beautiful keen eye like Mulready's. 
A rich brogue (he was Scotch, not Irish), a pipe of Cavendish, 
and a smart rejoinder, with a pleasant word for every man, 
woman, and child he met, are characteristic of him. His 
house is full of pictures, even to the kitchen. Many pictures 
he has at all his friends' houses, and his house at Bute is 
also filled with his inferior ones. His hospitality is some- 
what peculiar of its kind. His dinner, which is at six, is 
of one joint and vegetables, without pudding. Bottled beer 
for drink. I never saw any wine. After dinner he instantly 
hurries you off to tea, and then back again to smoke. He 
calls it meat-tea, and boasts that few people who have ever 
dined with him come back again." Mr. W. M. Rossetti 
describes him as '" one of the most cordial, large-hearted and 
lovable men I ever knew. He was so strong in belief as 
to be a sceptic as regards the absence of belief. I once 
heard him say, in his strong Scotch accent, 'An atheist, if 
such an animal ever really existed.' What the supposititious 
animal would do, I foro-et." 


Amongst other work of Millais this year was the retouch- 


ing of " Cymon and Iphigenia," a picture done by him in 
his seventeenth year, and now vastly improved by a fresh 
impression of colour and a further Pre-Raphaelite finish of 
the flowers in the foreground. 

"Memory," a little head of the Marchioness of Ripon, 
was also painted this winter. A more important work, how- 
ever, is "The Bridesmaid," for the head of which Mrs. 
Nassau Senior sat. " The Return of the Dove " was also 
finished and sent to its owner along with the following 
letter : 

To Mr. Combe. 


" December gt/i, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, I have touched your picture, 
4 The Return of the Dove,' at last ; and hope it will arrive 

" We came home on Saturday night. My brother brought 
the pictures on Monday evening, one of them not having 
dried completely. We have all fortunately escaped colds, 
which (considering the great exposure we have undergone) 
is something to be thankful for. My first two days of 
London have again occasioned that hatred for the place I 
had upon returning to it last year. I had a headache 
yesterday, and another about to come now. 

" You will perceive in some lights a little dulness on the 
surface of 'The Dove's' background. It will all disappear 
when it is varnished, which must not be for some little time. 
It is almost impossible to paint a picture without some bloom 
coming on the face of it. 

"You recollect it was arranged between Charley and 
myself that it should hang nearest the window, beside 
Hunt's. Please let it be a little leaned forward. 

" My mother is talking with Hunt approvingly of the works 
I have just had home, and I cannot write more without 
jumbling what they are saying in this. 
"In great haste, 

" Most sincerely yours, 


" ' The Dove ' will be sent off to you to-morrow (Wednes- 
day) by rail. The reason for hanging the picture nearer the 
light is that it is much darker than Collins' ' Nun.' ' 


Another letter addressed to Mrs. Combe, and referring to 
the sale of " Ophelia," carries us to the end of this year. 

70 Mrs. Combe. 


" December \ 2th, 1851. 

" MY DEAR MRS. COMBE, I enclose a little book written 
by Miss Rossetti. I promised to send it to you a long 
while ago, but have only recollected it now. I think you 
will greatly admire it. My remembrance of it is but slight, 
not having read it for several years. I was glad to hear 
that ' The Dove ' arrived safely, and that it gains upon 

"Mr. Farrer bought the 'Ophelia' the day before yesterday 
for three hundred guineas. The day previous, a Mr. White, 
a purchaser, was so delighted with it that he half closed with 
me. I expect he will call to-morrow to say that he will have 
it, when he will be much disappointed to hear of its sale. 

" Wilkie Collins is writing a Christmas book for which 
I have undertaken to make a small etching. 

" Hunt's prize picture of ' Proteus' is sold to a gentleman 
at Belfast which sets him (H.) up in opulence for the 
winter. I saw Charley last night. He is just the same as 
ever so provokingly quiet. I fancy you have rather mis- 
taken my feelings towards him ; not a whit of our friendship 
has diminished. I was with him last night, but little or 
nothing he said. 1 played backgammon with the matron. 

" Let me know what you think of the ' Rivulets.' . . . 

"In haste, yours sincerely, 




The Volunteer movement Reminiscences of Turner Meeting with Thackeray 
Millais proposes to paint "Romeo and Juliet "^-Goes to "George Inn" at 
Hayes Begins painting "The Proscribed Royalist" Arthur Hughes on his 
sittings Millais in the hunting field "The Order of Release "Models for this 
picture Funeral of the Duke of Wellington Amusing letter to Mr. Hodgkin- 
son Millais' first expedition to Scotland With the Ruskins to .Northumber- 
land and thence to Callander Their life in the North Discussion on 
architecture Dr. Acland The Free Kirk in 1852 Meeting with Gambart 
and Rosa Bonheur Millais' comic sketch-book He is slighted by the 
Academy Foreboding on the election day He is made an A.R.A. 

FROM the first day of 1852 down to the opening of the 
Royal Academy Millais continued to work away at 
the figures in "The Huguenot" and "Ophelia," devoting 
all his spare time to pictures of smaller importance. His 
life at this period may be gathered from the following 
letters, in which some reference to historical events invites 
a word of explanation. 

A series of revolutions in France, commencing in 1848, 
culminated in the famous coup cCttat of December, 1851, 
when for the first time universal suffrage was established, 
and as the result, Prince Louis Napoleon was re-elected 
President of the Republic for ten years certain. He soon 
let them know what that meant. No sooner was he installed 
in office than he banished into exile the distinguished general 
officers who were opposed to him, disbanded the National 
Guard and appointed others in their place, dismissed eighty- 
three members of the late legislative assembly, and finally 
put an end to the liberty of the Press. These high-handed 
proceedings threw all England into a ferment. The news- 
papers raised a howl of execration against the tyrant ; and 
the Government, taking alarm, established the Channel Fleet 
and called into existence a number of volunteer rifle corps 
to aid in the national defence. A glimpse at what followed 
will be found in the correspondence. 




To Mr. Combe. 


"January Qth, 1852. 

" DEAR MR. COMBE, Believe me, I have made many 
struggles to write to you, but somehow or other I have 
felt stupid and incompetent directly my hand clenched the 
pen. I fear it is my normal state now, but feel something 
must be written. 

" I have been working most determinedly since Christmas, 
but (curiously) with little effect. I have given up all visiting, 
so I cannot be accused on that score of giving little evidence 
of progress. 

" Next week I hope to sail into a kind of artistic trade- 
wind, which will carry me on to the Exhibition. . . . The 
whole of this day I have been drawing from two living 
creatures embracing each other. 

"In looking over this, I see so many ' I haves' that I feel 
inclined to throw it into the fire and cab off to the Great 
Western rail and on to Oxford, to show you that I have not 
forgotten you. My Christmas was a very leisurely time. I 
went into the country the day before, and returned the day 
after in a state of great depression. Both Hunt and Charley 
have been, I fancy, much in the same condition as myself in 
regard to working. The latter has not even yet determined 
upon his composition. I doubt whether he will have time to 
complete it for the Academy. Hunt came back from Oxford 
most elaborately delighted. I was astonished at the quantity 
of visiting he managed in the time. 

"They say that Turner has left ,200,000 some estimate 
it at double that amount which I very much doubt. I hear 
from good authority that a great portion of this money is 
going towards some houses for decayed limners, which is very 
creditable to Mr. T. Probably some of the worst living 
daubers are looking forward to the time when they are in- 
capable of spoiling more canvases, and are lodged in the 
Turner Almshouses. C - has no chance, for they must 
must be oil-painters. 

" I hope my garrulous capacity will return to me soon, 
when I intend writing to Mrs. Pat. Remember me to her, 
and believe me Most sincerely yours, 


I 5 6 



My father had but a slight acquaintance with Turner, 
though my mother was among the few of her sex who were 
ever permitted to enter the great landscape painter's house. 
She knew him well, and from her I obtained some interesting 
notes, which I give in her own words : " I used frequently to 
go and see Turner and his pictures, and though very few 
ladies were ever allowed to enter his doors, he was verv kind 


to young artists. He lived like a hermit in a great lonely 

house in Queen Anne 
Street ; his walls hung 
with many of his own 
pictures, which he re- 
fused to part with. He 
would not sell these on 
any account whatever, 
and one day he showed 

, aj, me a blank cheque which 

had been sent to him 
to fill in to any amount 
he chose if he would 
sell one of his pictures, 
but he laughed at the 
idea and sent back the 
cheque immediately. 

"The glass over many 
of his works was broken, 
and large pieces of brown 
paper were pasted over 

the cracks, for he would not be at the expense of new ones. 

Mr. Frith rightly described the studio when he said 'the 

walls were almost paperless, the roof far from weatherproof, 

and the whole place desolate in the extreme'; whilst Munro* 

used to say that the very look of the place was enough to 

give a man a cold. 

" Withal he had a great sense of humour, and when telling 

a story would put his finger to the side of his nose, and look 

exactly like ' Punch.' 

"Apropos of his physiognomy, he always resisted any 

attempt to make a likeness of him ; but one day after dinner 

* Munro of Novar, who lived in Hamilton Place, possessed several of 
Turner's best works, for which he had paid sums not exceeding ^200. Amongst 
them was one of the artist's masterpieces, "The Grand Canal at Venice," which, 
after Mr. Munro's death, was purchased by Lord Dudley for nearly 8oco. 




at the house of a friend, Count d'Orsay, a clever artist made 
an excellent drawing of him drinking his coffee ; but this was 
done without Turner's knowledge, and is, I believe, one of 
the few portraits of him now extant. 

''He disliked society, and was intimate with very few 
people, his principal friends being Mr. Bicknell, of Denmark 
Hill, and Munro, of Novar, though at times he frequented 
the Athenaeum Club. 

" After a while he took an intense dislike to his home in 
Queen Anne Street, and only Munro knew where he removed 

Sketch by William Millais 

to. Before this, however, he spent much time with Mr. 
Fawkes, of Farnley Hall, near Leeds, for whom he painted 
many pictures. I have stayed there, and examined the ex- 
quisite water-colour landscapes he did there, as well as a 
large portfolio of birds' eggs and feathers, also in water- 
colours, most beautifully finished. 

" Turner had a fancy for architecture, but the lodges which 
he planned at Farnley are of a sort of heavy Greek design, 
and not quite a success. 

" His one pleasure in the days when I knew him was 
driving himself about the country ; but he was evidently not 
accustomed to horses, as he paid no attention to them, being 
too much engrossed in admiring the landscape, and in conse- 
quence, one day Mr. Fawkes' family, who were committed to 

i 5 8 



his tender mercies, found themselves sitting in the middle 
of the road with the trap on the top of them. 

" Turner told me that the way in which he: studied clouds 
was by taking a boat, which he anchored in some stream, and 
then lay on his back in it, gazing at the heavens for hours, 
and even days, till he had grasped some effect of light which 
he desired to transpose to canvas. 

" No one was admitted to his house in Queen Anne Street 
unless specially invited. There was a sort of little iron grille 
in the centre of the front door, through which the old house- 
keeper used to look and see who was there. 

" As an example of the rarity of visitors, the late Lord 

Lansdowne, who was a great 
lover of Art and a friend of 
Turner's, told me that after 
receiving no answers to his 
letters he resolved to beard the 
lion in his den. He therefore 
went and knocked at the door, 
when a shock -head appeared 
at the iron grating, and its 
owner called out, ' Cats'-meat, 
I suppose ? ' ' Yes, cats'-meat,' 
answered his lordship, and 
squeezed himself in.* 

" After leaving Queen Anne 
Street, Turner seems to have 
taken a fancy to a little old-fashioned inn near Cheyne 
Walk, Chelsea. It was kept by a widow, and he asked 
if he might be allowed to live there. On her inquiring 
as to who he was, he said to her, ' What is your name ? ' 
to which she replied, ' Mrs. Brown.' ' Well,' said Turner, 
' I 'm Mr. Brown.' In this house he remained for some 
years, visiting only his friend Munro and the Athenseum 

" At last, one day he became seriously ill, and it was only 
by his constantly calling out for Lady Eastlake (the wife of 
the President of the Royal Academy), and on her being sent 
for, that his identity became known." 

* The Marquis of Lansdowne was a man of great benevolence and culture. 
At his table Millais and his wife constantly dined, and there they met all the 
literary and artistic celebrities of the day. He gave exquisite entertainments, and 
after dessert always called in the Italian cook to compliment him on the feast. 

By William Millais 


Returning now to the correspondence, I find the following 
letter : 

To Mr. Combe. 


"February $t/t, 1852. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, Don't be alarmed at this mighty 
circular, and think that the French have already landed. 
They have not come here yet ; but, to guard against such 
an awful event, the gentlemen of London are arming them- 
selves and forming rifle clubs ; and those who cannot give 
their personal assistance are aiding us by subscriptions for 
the purpose of furnishing rifles to those who cannot afford 
them, yet are willing to join in the service of their country 
clerks and the like. My governor is on the Committee, 
and my brother and self have joined. Several very in- 
fluential men are at the head of it. A number of ladies 
are getting up subscriptions, and ' the smallest contributions 
will be most thankfully received.' In the City there are a 
thousand double-barrelled riflemen, composed of the gentle- 
men of the Stock Exchanofc. I am sure you will see that 

O J 

such measures are stringent upon all Englishmen, and excuse 
my troubling you on such a subject. 

" Faithfully yours, 


" P.S. The advertisement of our club has appeared three 
times in The Times, and we already muster upwards of two 
hundred gentlemen." 

Amongst those whom he saw much of at this period, and 
to whom he was greatly attached, were his cousins George 
Hodgkinson and his wife Emily. He frequently paid them 
Saturday-to-Monday visits, when he was working in London, 
during the years 1851-54. He also corresponded pretty 
regularly with Mrs. Hodgkinson, who has most kindly placed 
her letters at my disposal. 

To Mrs. Combe. 


March 6th, 1852. 

" MY DEAR MRS. COMBE, I promised some time back to 
write you a letter. Pardon me, for I am a wretched corres- 


pondent. I am just now working so hard that I am glad 
to escape anything like painting, but I confess, writing is 
almost as difficult a thing with me. 

"I have very lately made the acquaintance of Mr. 
Thackeray, the author of Vanity Fair. He called un- 
expectedly upon me not to see my picture, he said, but 
to know me. I have returned his call, and find him a 
most agreeable man. Mr. Pollen and his brother also 


have paid me a visit, accompanied by Mr. Dean. Pollen's 

By William Millais 

brother is a good judge of painting, which is a rare thing 
in our days. 

" I am getting on slowly, but I hope surely. Ophelia's 
head is finished, and the Huguenot is very nearly complete ; 
the Roman Catholic girl is but sketched in. I am waiting 
for a young lady who has promised me to sit for the face, but 
is going to undergo an operation on her throat, which will 
prevent her doing so for a fortnight or more. ... I rarely 
see Hunt or Carlo, as they, like myself, stay at home in 
the evenings and go to rest early, so that they may rise 
likewise. I believe they are progressing with their work. 
but I daresay you know more of them than I do. 

" Yours most truly, 


I8 5 2] 



To Mr. Combe. 


"March, 1852. 

" Mv DEAR MR. COMBE, Recklessly I commence this 
letter, without the least knowledge of what is to follow. 
This night I promised Hunt to spend the evening with 
him, but am restrained by the immensity of the distance, 
feeling rather tired from a long walk we took together on 
Sunday, to Mr. Windus, the owner of all the celebrated 
pictures of the late William Turner, R.A. He has some 

t-y *~S 

Sketched by William Millais 

of the most valuable works in the world upwards of fifty 
of Turner's most excellent paintings, some of which are 
valued at fifteen hundred pounds, and amongst his collection 
he has several of mine one large and some small besides 
drawings. Some day, when you are in town, I must take 
you there. It is really a treat to see the house alone. The 
furniture is of the most magnificent kind, and the rooms 
are open to the public, I think, twice a week. It is at 
Tottenham, about seven miles from London. 

" Farrer has sent the picture of 'Mariana' to Edinburgh, 
to gratify the Caledonian curiosity, those people having ex- 
pressed a wish to see some of the Pre-Raphaelite pictures. 
I am continually receiving Scotch papers with frightfully 
long criticisms, a vast quantity of praise and, of course, 

i. n 


advice. To-day I have purchased a really splendid lady's 
ancient dress all flowered over in silver embroidery and 
I am going to paint it for 'Ophelia.' You may imagine it 
is something rather good when I tell you it cost me, old and 
dirty as it is, four pounds. 

"'The Huguenot' I have been working at to-day, but 
not very satisfactorily, having been disturbed all the after- 

" The Rifle Club is getting on splendidly. They have 
taken rooms in the Strand, and are increasing rapidly in 
numbers. All the country clubs are joining ; so ultimately 
it will become a very prodigious assembly. At present the 
rooms they have are but offices in which they have the pro- 
posed uniform grey turned up with green. The costume 
will be drawn in the Illustrated News of next week. When 
the corps is regularly formed, it is likely (as most of the 
members are private gentlemen and well-off) that there will 
be some place for members from the country to meet and 
dine, and reading-rooms for the accommodation of the whole 

I begin to feel tired at the sight of paints, having worked 
without intermission for ten months. This year I hope to 
enjoy the summer without a millstone of a picture hanging 
about my neck. The subject I intend doing will not require 
much out-of-door painting nothing but a sheet of water and 
a few trees a bit of flooded country, such as I have seen 
near you at Whitham. 

"Yours most sincerely, 


To the same. 


"March 3 !.$/, 1852. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, Many thanks for your kind wish 
for my visiting you after Easter. I am partly under an en- 
gagement to accompany a friend to Paris should the weather 
be favourable. With regard to 'The Huguenot' picture, I 
am happy to say I sold it to a gentleman, the very morning 
after you and Mrs. Pat called, for two hundred and fifty 
pounds. I have finished another picture, and have only 
to paint the skirt of Ophelia's dress, which will not, I think, 


take me more than Saturday. I have every hope of their 
being placed in very good positions, the principal hanger, 
Mr. Leslie, having called twice to see them, each time 
expressing great admiration. 

"In great haste, most sincerely yours, 


To the same. 


"Sunday, April i8///, 1852. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, Forgive my not having an- 
swered your letter sooner. Ever since the sending in of the 
pictures I have been running about London, calling, and 
taking walks into the country. You ask me to describe the 
dance of Mrs. Collins. I truly wish that you had been there. 
It was a delightful evening. Charlie [Collins] never got 
beyond a very solemn quadrille, though he is an excellent 
waltzer and polka dancer. Poor Mrs. C. was totally 
dumb from a violent influenza she unfortunately caught that 
very afternoon. She received all her guests in a whisper 
and a round face of welcome. There were many lions 
amongst others the famous Dickens, who came for about 
half an hour and officiated as principal carver at supper. 
Altogether there were about seventy people. I heard many 
very cheering remarks about my pictures from Academicians, 
one of whom went so far as to say that they were the best 
paintings in the Exhibition. I am in great hope of finding 
them in capital positions after these compliments. 

" I have just returned from the Foundling Church. The 
service is exceptionally good, and the children look very 
pretty. During the Litany one of the smallest fidgeted 
one of her shoes off, which fell through the palisades and 
on to the head of some person below. With all the evident 
care that is bestowed upon their education, I am astonished 
that the masters do not forbid the use of thumbs and saliva 
in turning over leaves. 

" Next week, or rather this, I mean to commence painting 
again, for I cannot stand entire laziness. ' Romeo and 
Juliet' is to be my next subject not so large as either 
of this year's. It is an order from a Mr. Pocock, one of 
the secretaries of the Art Union. 'The Huguenot,' which 


was sold to Mr. White, a dealer, has since been sold by 
him to Mr. Windus, the man who has all the celebrated 
Turners, and has already one of my paintings ' Isabella,' 
from Keats' poem. I am glad that it is in so good a col- 
lection, but cannot understand a man paying perhaps double 
the money I should have asked him. 
" With love to Mrs. Pat, believe me, 

" Most truly yours, 


Note. Nothing was done towards the painting of " Romeo 
and Juliet " beyond the sketch which the artist made for it in 
1848, and which was shown by Mr. John Clayton at the 
Millais Exhibition in 1898, and an additional design of the 
balcony scene [1852]. After discussing various subjects with 
Mr. Pocock, Millais' suggestion of the " The Proscribed 
Royalist " was approved, and shortly afterwards the picture 
was painted, and passed into the possession of Mr. Pocock. 

Mr. G. D. Leslie, R.A., tells me that at this date Millais 
sat to his father for the head of Lord Petre, in a picture of 
" The Rape of the Lock." " My father," he says, " painted 
Sir John on a small panel, just as he was, in a black frock 
coat, and a black cravat, with a little golden goose for a pin. 
The portrait was a very good likeness of him at that time^ 
and was sold at the sale of my father's pictures in 1860. I 
don't know who purchased it." 

"The Rape of the Lock" was bought by the late John 
Gibbons, of Hanover Terrace, who had a fine collection of 
pictures, and it is now in the possession of his son. 

To Mrs. Combe. 


"June 9///, 1852. 

" MY DEAR MRS. COMBE, With this I send you the lace 
which you \vere kind enough to procure for me. [It was 
used in 'The Huguenot,' and afterwards in 'The Pro- 
scribed Royalist.'] In returning it to the lady, I hope you 
will express my acknowledgments for her great kindness. 

" I have a subject that I am mad to commence [' The 
Proscribed Royalist '], and yesterday took lodgings at a 
delightful little inn near a spot exactly suited for the 

i8 S 2] "MILLAIS OAK" 165 

background. I hope to begin painting on Tuesday morning, 
and intend working without coming to town at all till it is 
done. The village is so very far from any railway station 
that I have no chance of getting to London in rainy weather. 
My brother is going to live with me part of the time, so I 
shall not be entirely a hermit. . . . 

"The immense success I have met with this year has 
given me a new sensation of pleasure in painting. I have 
letters almost every day for one or other of the pictures, and 
only wish your guest was as lucky, that he might go off to 
the Holy Land as soon as possible with me. I shall never go 
by myself. When I get to my country residence I will keep 
up a proper correspondence with both of you. Lately I have 
hated the sight of a pen, and have scarcely answered letters 
requiring an immediate reply. ... I have been paying a 
long-standing visit at a relation's near Croydon, and have 
become acquainted with the clergyman of the adjoining 
parish a Mr. Hamilton, rector of Beddington one of the 
most delightful men I ever met. He is a great friend of 
Mr. Marriott and others whose names I have heard you 
mention. His church and village are quite beaux ideals . . . 

" Yours very sincerely, 


This is the first letter in which Millais mentions "The 
Proscribed Royalist " and his intention to paint the subject. 
Having found a suitable background in a little wood near 
Hayes, in Kent, he commenced the picture in June, 1852, 
and from this date till the end of the year his home seems 
to have been alternately at Waddon, Gower Street, and 
the little "George Inn" at Bromley, kept by a Mr. Vidler. 
Most of this time seems to have been spent at the inn, which 
was within easy reach of the scene he had selected ; near 
also to the big trees on Coney Hall Hill, where still stands 
the giant oak that he painted in the foreground of the 
picture, and is now known as the " Millais Oak." 

Touching this painting William Millais writes: "An 
amusing incident occurred whilst we were at the " George 
Inn," Bromley, my brother being engaged on the background 
for ' The Proscribed Royalist ' in the old oak wood, and 
I (close by) on a large oil landscape. 

" Old Mr. Vidler, the landlord, was very proud of his 




signboard, representing St. George killing the Dragon, and 
was mortally offended at our turning it into ridicule. One 
day during our stay a violent storm carried the signboard 

off its hinges and smashed 
it to bits. The owner was 
only partly consoled on our 
offering to paint him a new 
one, and added ungraciously, 
' But there, now, it will never 
be the same thing.' 

" However, he thought 
differently when he saw the 
gorgeous thing we produced. 
My brother painted one side 
and I the other. Many 
people at this time came to 
picnic in the neighbour- 
hood, and it soon got 
abroad that the new sign- 
board was painted by a 
great artist. The old inn- 
keeper was flattered by the 
numbers who came to see 
it, and made a practice of 
taking the sign in at night and in rough weather." 


To Mrs. Hodgkinson. 


" Tuesday Night, June, 1852. 

" MY DEAR EMILY, According to promise, I give you 
immediate information about our arrival. Upon arriving 
at Croydon we first drove to your mansion at Waddon, 
where we took in the remaining luggage and trotted on 
here. We ordered a repast, and in the interim of prepara- 
tion walked to the oak trees and down to the farm, where I 
again encountered Mrs. Rutley, and expounded my views 
to her upon the necessity of having cover close at hand 
for my paintings, and how her farm exactly suited me for 
that purpose. She very graciously undertook to afford 
shelter for my box or myself in case of rain, storm, etc.. 
and after the colloquy was ended I joined Will (who was 




too timid to make a request to a stranger) and walked on 
here home, where we found the tea waiting us. 

" The clock of the church which adjoins our premises has 
just struck eleven, and signals me to bed. Another bell 
within me foretells an animal considerably larger than the 
nightmare visiting me perhaps an evening mammoth. I 
am writing this by the light of composition candles, sup- 
posed not to require snuffing. The wick of one hangs 
gracefully over like a hairpin, and the other has an astonish- 
ing resemblance to a juvenile cedar-tree, the latter prog- 
nosticating I believe the reception of letters, which will be 
particularly acceptable in the gloominess 
of our present retreat, more especially 
from our blessed little coz, E. P. H. 

"Our landlady (Mrs. Vidler) has just 
called into action a spark of animation 
from the heir apparent of Gower Street. 
She broke in upon us to wish us a 
very good-night, and is gone with Vidler 
into the innermost recesses of the con- 
jugal boudoir, probably to dilate upon 
the magnitude of our appetites. 

" Yesterday I harpooned a most ex- 
tensive whale [a patron] off the coast 
of Portland Place, having no less than 
ten footmen in attendance at dinner. 
The leviathan made most honourable 
overtures for an increase of acquaintance with the limner 
sprat [himself], who conducted himself with appropriate 
condescension and becoming self-denial, in defiance of the 
strawberries and cream. Somehow or other, I believe my 
evil spirit takes his residence more particularly in that 
all-surpassing luxury, cream. It was my ruin at Worcester 
Park, and directly I came here it invitingly stands within 
my reach. I wish I had courage enough to dash away 
that beverage, as Macbeth throws the goblet from him on 
the appearance of Banquo. 

" During the journey to this place we diverted ourselves 
with the cup and ball, catching it upon the point during 
the progress of cab, train, and Croydon fly. William is 
snoring so loudly that you must excuse my writing more 
at present. I am sure he would send affectionate greetings 
to you had he recovered from his lethargy. 



"Now to bed, to bed. ' Out d d spot ! ' (a blot of 
ink on my finger). 

"Affectionately your coz, 


" P.S. Wednesday morning. I have had a bad night's 
rest. Awoke by the maid at six, up at nine ; breakfast 
off eggs and bacon. Very stormy aspect in the weather, 
the glass falling to much rain. If it comes, you will pro- 
bably hear of all those magnificent oaks on Coney Hall 
Hill slipping down into the road, burying therein the 
most celebrated of artists ! The landlady, unnaturally 
bland for a female, has already exhibited signs of maternal 
affection for William. . . . The rain has commenced in 
torrents, so no painting to-day ; we must put up with 
profound meditations and cup and ball. The wind is so 
high that all the trees look as if they were making backs 
for a game of leap-frog." 

To the same. 


"Wednesday Afternoon, June, 1852. 

"MY DEAR EMILY, I am come in from an attempt to 
paint, but the weather is too cold and unsettled for any 
Christian to be out in, so I mean to console myself as best 
I may with writing this, and afterwards reading Uncle Toms 
Cabin, which is certainly interesting. . . . 

"Lynn has made me a regular artist's shooting- stool, 
shutting up and portable. The sun is positively shining, 
now that it is too late to begin again. Do you know I shall 
not recover in a hurry from those two insults ' Ten-ston'- 
six,' and being taken for the newspaper stall-keeper ! That 
comes of assisting a lady to cut books. The governor has 
sent me a Liverpool paper with a long criticism on my 
picture, 'The Hug-or-not.' . . . 

" Next Sunday I am going to spend at A. Mrs. Doyle 
has desired her husband* to bring me forcibly. I had such 
a capital letter from him, with an illustration of your con- 
victed servant painting out-of-doors, and a bull looking over 
a hedge with a significant expression, foreboding his in- 
tention of elevating me to the height of my profession. . . . 

* Richard Doyle, the famous caricaturist. 

I8 5 2] 



" Take my advice, don't go out at Hastings with that 
new parasol, otherwise you will come back with it like this 
[Here follows a sketch of Mrs. Hodgkinson being blown 
off a cliff out to sea, still clinging to the new parasol.] 
" I remain, your affectionate 


A reminiscence of this period will be found in the following 
note, kindly sent to me by Mrs. Pitt : 

" Perhaps you may like to know the following story in 
connection with your father's 
life. When he was painting the 
picture 'A Proscribed Royalist,' 
near Hayes Common, I was 
paying a visit to my mother, 
and was walking with my 
sisters one day, when we 
stopped for a minute behind 
an artist to look at his picture. 

" ' How beautiful it is,' I 
said, half to myself, ' and how 
much our mother would like to 
see it.' 

" We had not the slightest 
notion who the artist was, but 
he courteously turned round to 
us, and said : 

" ' If your mother lives near 
enough, I shall be pleased to 
take the picture and show it 
to her.' 

" We thanked him, and in- 
vited him to luncheon. He came, and our mother a real 
lover of Art of course admired the picture immensely, 
though we never knew who the artist was until the picture 
became public. 

"It might have been a year or two afterwards that I was 
much struck with 'The Huguenot,' and when visiting my 
husband's brother-in-law (Mr. Miller) at Preston, I discussed 
it with him. At that time he deprecated what was termed 
the Pre-Raphaelite style ; nevertheless, he went and bought 

Millais had been working steadily for more than a month 





at Hayes, and was getting on well, when, to his great chagrin, 
he was called away from his work to attend at Oxford as 
witness in a lawsuit with regard to the will of Mr. Drury, 
of Shotover, the testator's sanity at the date of the will being 
questioned, and he being one of the attesting witnesses. He 
happened to be with Mr. Drury in 1849, when the will was 
made, and, having spent two or three months under his roof, 

he could speak with the 
utmost confidence as to 
the state of his mind. 

On the conclusion of 
Millais' evidence, Mr. 
Justice Williams, before 
whom the case was tried, 
complimented him in 
the following terms : 

"Well, Mr. Millais, 
if you can paint as well 
as you can give your 
evidence, you will be a 
very successful man 
some day." In the end 
the validity of the will 
was established. 

To Mrs. Hodgkinson. 

11 HAYES, 

" August tfh, 1852. 


have just concluded our 
customary game of skit- 
tles, and I hasten, with 
a shaky hand, to fulfil my promise of writing you a letter. 
To-day we were both obliged to leave off painting early, as 
every two minutes a shower of rain came down, so since 
one o'clock we have had strong exercise in archery and the 
knock-'em-downs. Yesterday we also took a holiday, as it 
was wet ; so we are not getting on precisely as we could 
wish. . . . 

" Poor Mrs. Vidler has been bedridden for some time, 
owing, I am told, to an encounter with some drunken fellow 
who insulted her. They say she doubled her mawleys in the 


i85*] UUKKUbFO^DK^Cii 171 

true pugilistic style, and knocked over the inebriate vagabond, 
to his infinite astonishment and discomfort, so injuring his leg 
in the fall that he has since been at the hospital. . . . 

" I wish I was in a vein for describing a club feast that 
came off here a day or two ago. Upwards of eighty agricul- 
tural labourers sat down to table, the stewards wearing blue 
and white rosettes in their buttonholes. Of course almost 
all of them were drunk in the evening, and some of the 
drollest scenes took place outside the house. About one a.m. 
a fight was raging, which kept me awake for some time ; and 
last night I never slept till four in the morning I suppose 
from having drunk some rather strong tea at the Hasseys' 
so to-day I feel sleepy and stupid. 

" The Royal Academy conversazione I attended alone, 
William being upset with rheumatics. The first people I 
met were, of course, the Leslies, with whom I kept the 
greater part of the evening. The Duke of Wellington made 
his appearance about ten, and walked through the rooms with 
the President, Sir Charles Eastlake. All went off as those 
and most things do. I saw Mrs. Leslie (not Miss) down to 
her carriage, and walked home with Hunt. 

" With a gentle smoothing down of George's ambrosian. 
locks, believe me, 

" Most sincerely yours, 


To Mr. Combe. 


" Tuesday Night, October, 1852. 

" MY DEAR COMBE, Do not be astonished, or imagine me 
forgetful, in allowing so long a time to elapse without writing. 

" I have but just returned to this place, after spending a 
week (bedridden) at Gower Street, where I went to be 
nursed in a tremendous rheumatic cold I caught painting 
out of doors. I am well again now, and worked away to- 
day as usual at my background, w r hich I hope to finish in 
two or three days at most, when I shall return to Town for 
good. ... I am waiting here for one more sunny day, to 
give a finishing touch to the trunk of a tree which is in broad 
sunlight. Both yesterday and to-day I have suffered from 
headache, without in the least knowing the cause. I have 


taken medicine enough to supply a parish, and am particularly 
careful in my diet, drinking nothing but water not even tea. 

" This year I am going to paint a small picture of a single 
figure, the subject of which you will like ; and you shall, if 
you like, have the first refusal of it. The one I am now 
about is the property of Mr. Pocock, and the other (of the 
same size) is for Mr. Wilkinson, M.P. for Lambeth, or Mr. 
Ellison, the gentleman who purchased ' Ferdinand.' You 
recollect seeing it at Oxford. It is quite a ' lark ' now to see 
the amiable letters I have from Liverpool and Birmingham 
merchants, requesting me to paint them pictures, any size, 
subject, and amount I like leaving it all to me. I am not 
likely to let them have anything, as they would probably 
hawk it about until they obtained their profit. 

" I hear from Mrs. Collins that they may, perhaps, spend 
some part of the autumn at Hanover Terrace. I hope it 
will be so, as I would arrange for a tour together in the 
spring if all goes right to Switzerland or Spain. Next year 
I hope to paint the ' Deluge,' which will not require any out- 
of-door painting, so I should be at liberty to take a holiday 
abroad. Write and let me know what you think of this ; it 
is a project I really intend. Remember me most affection- 
ately to Mrs. Pat, to whom I shall write in a day or two. 
" Most sincerely yours, 


"The Proscribed Royalist" is one of the pictures referred 
to in the above letter, and this being the last mention of it 
in the correspondence, it may be well to introduce here the 
subsequent history of this painting. 

The background was not completed until November ; and 
to get the effect of sunshine on the brilliant satin petticoat 
of the female figure, Millais took the dress down to Hayes 
with him and rigged it up on the lay figure. The actual 
figure and face of the woman were finally taken from the 
beautiful Miss Ryan, the model for "The Huguenot," and 
when that portion of the work was finished he commenced 
{in March) to paint the cavalier hidden in the trees. For 
this figure his friend Mr. Arthur Hughes (himself virtually 
one of the Pre-Raphaelite Brothers) sat, and to him I am 
indebted for the following interesting note : 

"I was in the Royal Academy Library," he says, "one 
evening, looking at books of etchings, and had some by 

By permission of H. Graves and Son 

1 8 5 2] REMINISCENCES 175 

Tiepolo before me, when Millais came in and sat down 
beside me. Having asked for Mclan's 'Highland Clans' 
(presumably for the 'Order of Release'), in his leisure he 
looked at the Tiepolos and criticised them at once as ' florid, 
artificial. I hate that kind of thing.' Then he asked me 
to sit to him for a head in his picture, ' The Proscribed 
Royalist.' I went, and sat five or six times. He painted 
me in a small back-room on the second floor of the Gower 
Street house, using it instead of the regular studio on the 
ground floor because he could get sunshine there to fall 


on his lay figure attired as the Puritan Girl. In the studio 
below he had taken the picture out of a wooden case with 
the lid sliding in grooves to keep all dust from it, he said 
and after my sitting he used to slip it in again. When I 
saw the picture I ventured to remark that I thought the 
dress of the lady was quite strong enough in colour; but he 
said it was the fault of the sun ; that the dress itself was 
rather Quakery, but the sunshine on it made it like gold. His 
studio was exquisitely tidy. I had been admitted by a very 
curly-headed Buttons (' Mr. Pritchard, my butler,' as Millais 
used to call him), who received at the same time a tremen- 



dous wigging for some slight debris left on the floor. After 
he had retired, Millais made it up to him by declaring he 
would undertake to make that boy paint better than a Royal 
Academician in a twelvemonth ! Apart from my admiration 
of Millais, it was a very interesting episode to me, from the 
revelation of character in the few inhabitants of the house, 
and the way he ruled all, and all was ruled for him. The 
gentleness of the father and the vigorous character of the 
mother, the picturesque but somewhat restless individuality 
of William Millais, were all interesting. Commissions were 

then beginning to pour in upon John, and in less degree on 
William, whose forte was water-colour landscapes, exquisitely 

" The latter came in one day, saying, ' I don't care, I 'm 
all right for a year.' 'And your brother for twenty,' said his 
mother a little sharply, I thought. 

"William used to work in the front room, while John 
painted me in the back one. There was but a thin wall 
between the two, and we could hear William all the time, as 
he was very restless, singing by snatches, whistling, calling 
to John to know the time repeatedly, coaxingly, then im- 
ploringly, noisily, but getting no reply, John working hard 
and serious as grim death the while. But at last his patience 




gave out and he stopped work, and for the space of a minute 
he levelled such language at William as up to that time I 
had not heard used by one brother to another. But he did 
not tell him the time ! 

" During the sittings we talked once of the objection 
(among many others) the critics made to the amount of detail 
the Pre-Raphaelites gave in their pictures, and Millais said, 
' If you do not begin by doing too much you will end by 
doing too little ; if you want to stop a ball which has been 
thrown along the ground you must get a little beyond it." 

"The Proscribed Royalist" now belongs to Mr. James 
Opton, having been successively in the possession of Mr. 
Pocock, Mr. Plint, and Sir John Pender. 

The headaches of which Millais complained in several of 
his letters are not, I believe, uncommon among men of his 
craft, long confinement in the studio unfitting them for work 
in the open, where they must perforce sit still for hours 
together, exposed to every wind that blows. In early life 
my father suffered a good deal in this way; and it was not 
until his friends, John Leech and "Mike" Halliday, per- 
suaded him to follow the hounds that he found relief from 
this complaint. In his next two letters he writes enthusias- 
tically on the sport, as a source of health and strength. 

I. 12 


To Mr. George Wyatt. 



" MY DEAR WYATT, Many thanks for your kind attention 
to my wishes. The fleet must have been a wonderful sight. 
I was very nearly going with Leech, the Punch draughtsman, 
to see its departure, but found even greater attraction in 
hunting, which I have lately taken to. Every Saturday I 
accompany him into Hertfordshire, where good horses await 
us, and we stay overnight at a friend's, and set off in the 
morning. I have been four times out, and have only had 
one spill, which did not hurt me in the least. 

" I should not follow the chase but that I enjoy it above 
all other recreation, and find myself quite fitted for such 
exercise. The first time I ever rode over a fence gave me 
confidence from the comparatively easy way in which I kept 
my seat. Since then I have ridden over pretty nearly every 
kind of hedge and ditch. Leech is a good rider, and we go 

" With kind regards from my family, believe me, 

" Yours very truly, 


To Mr. Combe. 


" Saturday, October 2$rd, 1852. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, I cannot promise to pay you 
a visit, as I am now going to look for another background, 
which I must immediately commence. 

" I returned the day before yesterday with my picture 
finished, all but the figures. To-day I am going to the 
Tower of London, to look after a gateway or prison door 
[for ' The Order of Release ']. I am undecided between 
two subjects, one of which requires the above locality, and 
the other the interior of a church. [The artist's first idea 
of the background for ' L'Enfant du Regiment,' painted in 


" With regard to our proposed journey, I shall be ready, 
directly after my pictures are sent to the Royal Academy, 
to go with you to Norway or the North Pole. I look 

I8 5 2] 



forward to this travelling-trip, as I have had so little recrea- 
tion within these last four years, and I hope you will pay 
the Collins's a visit this autumn, as we could then discuss the 
merits of the different countries. I have a curious partiality 
for Spain, from reading Don Quixote and Gil Bias; but, 
as you say, the distance is an obstacle. I know nothing 
about Norway, but I hope it is not colder in the summer 
than here. 

" Do you intend coming to town to see the funeral of the 


Duke ? I do not generally care about such things, but I 
shall make a little struggle for that. It will be worth 

"Have you seen anything of Pollen* lately, and has 
Jenkins gone yet? Last Thursday evening I met Tennyson 
and his brother Charles, a clergyman. Politics were the 
principal topic of conversation, the Laureate believing it 
Louis Napoleon's secret intention to make war with and 
invade England. In this Tennyson thinks he would be 

* Mr. Pollen, a fellow of Merton College, and an authority on Art matters, 
was a frequent visitor to the Combes, and met there Millais and Hunt, whose 
works he admired. 


successful, holding us in subjection for some little time, when 
he would be kicked over to fair France to resist the attack 
of almost all Europe. I can see you smiling at this like a 
true Britisher. 

li Ever yours most truly, 


" The Order of Release " (referred to for the first time 
in the foregoing letter) is well described by Mr. Walter 
Armstrong, who begins by quoting Mr. Andrew Lang in the 
following notice: "'In 1853 Millais painted a picture in 
which both his dramatic power and his eye for the lovable 
in woman are superbly shown, and shown under some 
difficulties. This is ' The Order of Release,' now the 
property of Mr. James Renton. It was originally painted 
for Mr. Joseph Arden, who gave the commission for it 
through Thackeray. As a piece of realistic painting, it 
may challenge comparison with anything else in the world. 
The scene takes place not outside a prison, as more than 
once has been absurdly supposed, but in a bare waiting- 
room, into which the young clansman has been ushered 
to his wife, while his gaoler takes ' The Order of Release,' 
which will have to be verified by his superior before it can 
result in final liberty. The stamp of actual truth is on it; and 
if ever such an event happened, if ever a Highlander's wife 
brought a pardon for her husband to a reluctant turnkey, 
things must have occurred thus. The work is saved by 
expression and colour from the realism of a photograph. 
The woman's shrewd, triumphant air is wonderfully caught, 
though the face of the pardoned man is concealed, like that 
of Agamemnon in the Greek picture, but by a subtle artifice. 
The colour of the plaid and the gaoler's scarlet jacket re- 
inforce each other, but do not obliterate the black- and-tan 
of the collie. The good dog seems actually alive. The 
child in the woman's arms is uncompromisingly ' Hieland.' 
The flesh painting, as of the child's bare legs, is wonderfully 
real ; the man's legs are less tanned than usually are those 
of the wearers of the kilt. Perhaps he is grown pale in 
prison, as a clansman might do whose head seemed likely 
soon to be set on Carlisle wall. As a matter of truthful 
detail, observe the keys in the gaoler's hand, the clear steel 
shining through a touch of rust. The subject and the 

By permission of H. Graves and Son 

I8 5 2] 



sentiment, no less than the treatment, made this picture a 
complete success.' 

" Every word of this may be endorsed, but Mr. Lang* 
has hardly, I think, laid sufficient stress on the mastery of 
expression in the woman's face. In it we can see the 
subtlest mingling of emotions ever achieved by the artist. 
There is not only shrewdness and triumph, there is love for 
the husband, contempt mixed with fear for the power sym- 
bolised by the turnkey's scarlet, pride in her own achievement, 

From Millais' Comic Sketch Book 

and the curious northern satisfaction at the safety of one's 
own property a Jeanie Deans, in fact, with meekness 
ousted by a spice of pugnacity." ii/i'owMiwiH^ 

Spielmann has also an interesting note on this picture in 
his recently-published Millais and his Works. He says : 
" So great was Millais' passion for accuracy, that he obtained 
a genuine order of release, signed by Sir Hildegrave Turner, 
when, during the war, he was Governor of Elizabeth Castle 
in Jersey, and so faithfully did he copy it that the late 
Colonel Turner, the Governor's son, who knew nothing 
of the matter, recognised with surprise his father's signature 

* Mr. Andrew Lang wrote a very excellent series of notes on the little 
exhibition of Millais' work exhibited by the Fine Art Society in 1881. 

1 84 



in the picture, as he walked through the gallery in which 
it was exhibited." 

The head of the woman (painted from my mother) was 
a perfect likeness of her in 1853, except only as to the 
colour of her hair, a golden auburn, which was changed 
to black, in order to contrast with that of the child. 

Mr. F. B. Barwell tells me that Westall, the famous 
model, posed for the Highlander. He had been in a 
dragoon reoqment, from which he deserted. Nemesis, how- 

o o ^ 

ever, overtook him one day in the studio of Mr. Cope, R.A.. 
and he was taken back to his old regiment and tried by 
court-martial. Some time after this his absence w r as so 



lamented in the London studios that a subscription was 
raised by artists, and he was bought out of the service. 

"Unlike 'The Huguenot,'" adds Mr. Barwell, "the back- 
ground of which had been severely criticised, ' The Order 
of Release' made an immense sensation. No fault could 
be found with the background, even by the old-fashioned 
school, whilst the extraordinary realism and brilliant colour- 
ing added to the dramatic interest of the story, and the 
novelty of execution astonished all." 

The picture is said to have been the first ever hung on the 
walls of the Academy which required the services of a 
policeman to move on the crowd. " Afterwards," says Mr. 
Barwell, " when exhibited in Paris at the Great Exhibition 
of 1855, it arrested a great deal of attention, and in an article 
in Le Temps, by Theophile Gaultier, that gentleman expressed 
himself completely puzzled as to how it had been produced 
what the vehicle was, whether oil, wax, or tempered varnish 

I8 5 2] 



and bestowed a considerable amount of space in discussing 
its merits. The article was favourable on the whole, but 
implied that it was another instance of those curious eccen- 
tricities only to be found in Albion." 

In assessing the value of this picture it is interesting to 
note that it was sold 
by Millais to Mr. 
Arden, of Rickmans- 
worth Park, for 
^400; that in 1878 
Mr. James Renton 
bought it for ^2853 ; 
and that at the sale 
of Mr. Renton's col- 
lection, on his death, 
it fell to Sir Henry 
Tate as the purchaser, 
at the price of 5000 
guineas. In a sym- 
pathetic letter Sir 
Henry says : " The 
last time I saw Sir 
John, before illness 
had deprived him of 
speech, he told me 
that Mr. Renton had 
just died, and ' The 
Order of Release' was 
likely to come into 
the market. He spoke 
with much interest 
and enthusiasm of 
the picture. He had 
too much good feeling 

to even suggest that I should buy the picture ; but we 
gathered that he would like it to belong to the nation, so 
it was a double pleasure to me to obtain it last month for 
my gallery, as I felt I was carrying out the wish of a greatly- 
valued and much-missed friend." 

It was beautifully engraved in 1856 by the late Samuel 
Cousins, the finest engraver of this century, or probably of 
any other ; and this, his first work on Millais' pictures, was 
followed by a long series of similar interpretations, all of the 


same high standard of merit. He was more or less engaged 
upon them right up to 1884, when, after beginning " Little 
Miss Muffet," he was obliged to surrender his tools to 
T. Atkinson, who finished the plate. Cousins was a quiet, 
plodding, and honest worker of the very best type, and his 
eventual election to the honour of Royal Academician was 
applauded by everybody as a compliment he well deserved. 

The sufferings of an artist while painting, or rather trying 
to paint, a tiresome child, are amusingly described in the 
followinq- letter : 


To Mr. Combe. 


"December \6th, 1852. 

u MY DEAR MK. COMBE, Instead of going to a musical 
party with my father and brother, 1 will write you something 
of my doings. I have a headache, and feel as tired as if I 
had walked twenty miles, from the anxiety I have undergone 
this last fortnight [over 'The Order of Release']. All the 
morning I have been drawing a dog, w r hich in unquietness is 
only to be surpassed by a child. Both of these animals I am 
trying to paint daily, and certainly nothing can exceed the 
trial of patience they occasion. The child screams upon 
entering the room, and when forcibly held in its mother's 
arms struggles with such successful obstinacy that 1 cannot 
begin my work until exhaustion comes on, which generally 
appears when daylight disappears. A minute's quiet is out 
of the question. The only opportunity I have had was one 
evening, when it fell asleep just in the position I desired. 
Imagine looking forward to the day when next one of these 
two provoking models shall come ! This is my only thought 
at night and upon waking in the morning. When I suggest 
corporal punishment in times of extreme passion, the mother, 
after reminding me that I am not a father, breaks out into 
such reproofs as these : ' Poor dear ! Was he bothered to 
sit to the gentleman? Precious darling! Is he to be tor- 
mented ? No, my own one ; no, my popsy, my flower, 
cherub,' etc., etc., dying away into kisses, when he (the baby) 
is placed upon his legs to run about my room and displace 
everything. Immediately he leaves off crying, remarking 
that he sees a ' gee-gee ' (pointing to a stag's head and antlers 
I have hung up), and would like to have one of my brushes. 




This infant I could almost murder ; but the dog I feel for, 
because he is not expected to understand. A strong man 
comes with it and bends him to my will, and all the while it 
looks as calm as a suffering- martyr. I do more from this 
creature in a day than from the other in a week. 

" This year I hope you will come and see the produce of 
all this labour before the pictures go to the exhibition I 
mean a day or two previous, so that they may be quite 
finished. . . . Wednesday evening I went to a public dinner 
at Hampstead, and escaped in time to avoid returning thanks 
for the honour they intended doing me. I expect soon to 
have an invitation to a banquet at Birmingham in honour 
of the success of their exhibition, to which I sent ' Ophelia.' 
There I am afraid I must say something, as I lost only by 
some few votes the prize given to Ward's ' Charlotte Corday 
going to Execution,' and it is customary to propose the 
health of the unsuccessful candidate. My brother will ac- 
company Hunt in time to attend the Magdalen evening 
festival, and although I shall not be with you on Christmas- 
day, you may depend upon it that I shall drink your and 
Mrs. Pat's health. Wishing her and yourself a happy 
Christmas, believe me, 

" Ever yours most sincerely, 


To the same. 


"December, 1852. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, You might have called fifty times 
and never have found all our family out, as you did the other 
day. If you had given me an idea that you intended calling, 
I should have been at home to meet you. As it was I was 
at the Tower of London in search of a background, in which 
I was unsuccessful. All the stonework is too filthy with the 
soot of Town to make any good colour in a background. 
Let me know if you are coming up to see the lying-in-state 
or the funeral of the Duke [of Wellington]. I have been 
very lucky, having got a most excellent position from the 
Punch office windows, through the kindness of one of the 
principal writers, Tom Taylor, the man who wrote that 
flattering notice of my last year's pictures. 


"This day I have commenced the figure in my summer's 
work ('The Royalist'), and to-night will be drawing the 
group of my other subject ('The Order of Release'), so 
I have begun my winter's work. I saw, last night, a friend's* 
pictures, painted this year in Spain, which would make you 
alter your opinion about that country. The people and place 
must be magnificent. I never saw such costumes and natural 
taste in the manner of putting their dresses on. I think we 
must go to Spain. ... " Yours most truly, 


To Mrs. Combe. 


"December, 1852. 

" MY DEAR MRS. COMBE, How did you like the funeral 
procession ? I expected to have heard Mr. Combe's opinion. 
In the Illustrated London News there is a drawing of the 
Royal carriages passing the Punch offices, and a likeness of 
me sitting in the front row between some ladies. You will 
see by that how good a position I had. I hear from Collins 
that you are not coming to visit them until after Christmas. 
Do not make it long after, as I shall then be beginning hard 
work and unable to join you in walks, etc. Of course you 
have heard from Hunt since his return. Now that he has 
come home we have our old friendly meetings again, such 
as we used to have in former years. Charlie has so far 
altered as to join our evenings, which he used to look upon 
as almost profane. The evenings are so continually wet that 
I seldom take my usual walk to Hanover Terrace. Mrs. 
Collins is getting quite gloomy at the infrequency of my visits. 

" Wilkie's new novel, Basil, has come out. I have just 
finished reading it, and think it very clever. The papers, 
I understand, abuse it very much, but I think them incon- 
sistent in crying it down and praising Antonina, which is not 
nearly so good. Have you read Esmond, Thackeray's last 
book? I hear from Hunt that it is splendid, but it is in so 
much request at the library that I cannot get it. 

" My private opinion of the Wellington car is that it looked 
like a palsied locomotive. All the dignity of size was lost 
in the little trembling motion it had over the stones of the 
streets. It suggested bruises on the hero's nose from shaking 

* John Phillip, R.A. 


of the body in the coffin. I say 'private opinion,' because a 
Royal Academician was mixed up in the design. Altogether 
the sight was a most imposing one, but there is so much 
talk about it that I am sick of the very name of the Duke's 
funeral. It has taken the place of the weather in conversation. 
The first thing one is asked in Town, upon entering a room, 
is, ' Did you see it ? Where from ? And what think you of 
it ? ' Young ladies, generally dumb on the first introduction, 
venture upon this topic as courageously as an accustomed 
orator. Believe me, " Most truly yours, 


To Mr. Combe. 


"February i$t/t, 1853. 

"Mv DEAR MR. COMBE, All my family are gone out to 
a musical party, excepting my mother, who is ill in her 
room, suffering from a cold. I have but just returned from 
Hanover Terrace. Poor Mrs. Collins (also afflicted with 
cold) has entirely lost her voice. Charlie is rather despond- 
ing about the quantity of work he has got before him, 
doubting the possibility of finishing for the Exhibition. 

" I am progressing with my picture slowly, but of course 
will finish in time. . . . Hunt is so hard at work that I 
never see him. He is painting a modern subject, which 
you probably know more about than 1 do. I have lately 
become acquainted with a very busy Roman Catholic, a 
most mysterious-looking individual, a friend of Pollen's. 
His name is De Bammerville. I dined with him last week, 
and he called to ask me to accompany him to Cardinal 
Wiseman's this evening, but I excused myself. I believe 
him to be a Jesuit. He has a most extraordinary appear- 
ance an excessively dark beard and complexion, and wearing 
wolf's fur round his neck and wrists, with braid altogether 
looking very like a stage Polish Count, who murders every- 
one and then goes down a trap-door with blue light upon 
him. I expect he looks upon me as a promising convert. 
He smiles at the notion of my attending Wells Street 
Church, and, no doubt, pictures in his imagination my sitting 
on a three-legged stool, painting a Holy Family for the only 
church. " Yours most truly, 



About this time Millais presented to his cousin, Mrs. 
George Hodgkinson, a little picture of a female figure, for 
which she herself had sat. It was sent to her in June, as 
soon as it was done ; but the husband, objecting to the 
position of one of the arms, wrote to the artist and begged 
him to take a certain portion of the arm away. To this 
request he received the following amusing reply : 

To Mr. Hodgkinson. 


"June \Qth. 

" SIR, You desire that in your absence the young woman 
should have an operation performed on her left arm. I have 
consulted her pleasure upon the subject, and have explained 
that her ' frame ' shall not be shaken, as we intend taking- 


her out of it. Mr. Robinson will be in attendance, to ad- 
minister chloroform, upon which I intend making an incision 
with my palette knife just below the elbow. Laying open 
the w r ound, we shall then have exposed the two punctured 
bones, the ' radius ' and the ' ulna,' upon which an immediate 
solution of turps shall be plentifully applied. By this latter 
expedient we hope to eradicate the deformity and to make a 
bond fide restoration. 

" The only companion the patient has had during her 
incarceration has been her trusty Dandy, ' Shy,' who has 
put on a very long face since he has been with her, gloomy 
in sympathy with his serene parent, who has been pupping 
and given birth to feline juveniles. . . . William has been 
playing one or two tricks with his mawleys upon the piano, 
accompanying the quartette with such good effect that the 
governor has thrown up the sponge in token of the total 
defeat of that instrument. Time was frequently called, but 
none but Bill came to the scratch. The Lord and Master of 
this house is at this moment endeavouring to bring the un- 
fortunate piano (who is upwards of forty) back to its original 
tone. My female parent is in the adjoining room, making 
preparations for an early dinner, which principally consist 
in the entire subjugation of the curly-headed Pritchard, and 
a discovery of bottles, the contents of which are unknown 
to her ; hence a continual application of the necks of the 
aforesaid bottles to the aforesaid lady's nose, accompanied 
by an observation, ' That's gin,' ' That's vinegar,' or ' What's 


Q fl 



that, Pritchard ? ' (the boy's nose takes kindly to the odour 
of wines.) 'Sherry, mum.' I believe that boy would be 
worth a publican's while to purchase. Get him an order to 
taste the wines at the docks, and he would bring himself 
out as full as a bottle. He has come in with the tablecloth 
for dinner, and mother calls for a general clearance for that 
meal ; so no more at present from your 

" Limner, 


Sketch by William Millais 

At the end of June, 1853, Millais, in company with his 
brother William, journeyed North for the first time, intending 
to take a good holiday after prolonged work at his easel. 
The expedition was at first suggested by the Ruskins, who 
had agreed to meet the brothers and introduce them to some 
of the beauties of the Northern hills. After spending a 
delightful week with Sir Walter Trevelyan in Northumber- 
land, which the railway had then penetrated as far as 
Morpeth, the two brothers met the Ruskins there and 
travelled with them by private coaches to the Trossachs, 
taking en route the picturesque old towns of Melrose and 




To the former place their host insisted on accompanying 
them, taking Mrs. Ruskin and her friend, Miss McKenzie, 
in his dog-cart. There then they parted, the visitors betaking 
themselves to a carriage and pair under the guidance of a 
postillion. This gentleman, however, proved himself hardly 
equal to the occasion. After a brief halt at a hostelry in 
the hill country, where the whisky was supremely tempting, 
he was taken so seriously ill that he could no longer control 

his horses. There was 
nothing for it, therefore, 
but to dispense with his 
services and tool the 
animals along as best 
they could. William 
Millais gallantly under- 
took this task, and after 
depositing the unhappy 
Jehu amidst the luggage 
on the top of the coach 
he evolved from his own 
inner consciousness 
something that served 
for reins, and managed 
to land the party safely 
at Callander, where 
rooms had been en- 
for them. 





Mrs. George Hodg- 
kinson sends me a 
sketch of his, made at 
the time, showing the 
post-boy hanging on to the collar of one of his horses, as 
he piteously moans, " Aw 'm verrarr baad aw canna ride- 
on clearr, oh dearrr ! " 

At Callander the two brothers found apartments in the 
" New Trossachs Hotel," microscopic in size, but clean and 
comfortable, and took most of their meals with their friends, 
who were more luxuriously accommodated at the manse, at 
Brig o' Turk, some five hundred yards away. But, " hey, oh, 
the wind and the rain ! "- especially the rain. For nearly five 
long weeks it came steadily down, regardless of Mrs. Ruskin 
and her brave championship of the climate of this, her native 
land. Except at rare intervals, sketching was out of the 




question. There was nothing to see ; but health and strength 
were to be had by braving the elements. Mackintoshes had 
not then been invented, but the plaid of the country afforded 
some protection, and, thus habited, the whole party turned 
out day by clay, spending their lives in the pure air. It 



U si 

was soon found, however, that the plaid was insufficient 
without the kilt, and as in those days sojourners in the 
Highlands were expected to adopt the costume of the 
country, not only for their own comfort, but as a compliment 
to the natives, whose judgment in the matter of dress was 
thus endorsed, it needed no great persuasion on the part 




of their friends to make the two brothers array themselves 
accordingly. John Millais, however, did not take kindly to 
the kilt. Unlike his brother, who continued to wear it to 
the end of the season, he discarded it after one day's wear, 
finding perhaps more trouble with it than he did with the 
plaid, until after many attempts he learnt the art of adjusting 
it in the proper fashion. His first attempt in a big storm- 
was about as futile as Dame Partington's struggle with her 
mop against the Atlantic waves when they invaded her house. 


He came out of the combat beaten and wet to the skin ; but 
alive, as he always was, to the humorous side of things, he 
made, the same evening, a sketch of the event ; and shortly 
afterwards there appeared in Punch a more finished drawing 
of his, entitled " How to wear a Highland plaid." 

Every day the united parties went on some expedition 
together, climbing perchance Ben Ledi, or fishing in Loch 
Achray, famous in local tradition for salmon that never were 
there, and, whenever it was possible to do so, making 
sketches of the scenery around. As to Millais, his only 
thought was of a pleasant holiday and rest from his usual 
occupations ; yet even he was caught at last by the fascina- 



H -5 



-" rt 


tion of a turn in the lovely little river Finlass. It suddenly 
occurred to him that it would make a capital background 
for a single figure if all the other part of the landscape 
were subdued in deep shadow ; and on Mr. Ruskin consent- 
ing to stand, he began at once a portrait of the critic, which 
is now known as one of the best works he ever did. 

The picture was afterwards purchased by Dr. (afterwards 
Sir Thomas) Acland, whose recent visit to Callander had 
added greatly to the pleasure of the party. Millais refers 
to it in the following letter : 

To Mr. Combe. 


"STIRLING, August ^th, 1853. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, Finding all my friends writing 
letters, I have just crossed the bog that separates us from 
them to send you a bulletin of our health and doings. Our 
patience has been most sorely tried, and has stood proof 
tolerably well. Cannot you see us, one by one and hour by 
hour, with anxious faces, trying to read the sun through 
Scotch mist and rain ? Cannot you hear us singly giving our 
decided opinion of the day, hope buoying us up to tell other 
than our real sentiments about the state of the weather ? 
"It's a varry saaft dee" has greeted me every morning for 
the last five weeks, uttered by a buxom landlady, who is truly 
the only person I have seen unclouded about the physiognomy. 

" Dr. Acland has been staying here a few days. What an 
amiable man he is ! He left us on Monday, and I have taken 
his room, because of the fine view its window affords. I 
was determined to bring back something, so on the very 
afternoon of his departure I began a new picture. Oh that 
1 had tried this bait before with the sun, for I had barely 
sketched-in my work before the sun, with British effulgence, 
burst out upon the rocky hills. The wet birch leaves gave 
back tiny images of him, and all the distant mountains 
changed suddenly from David Cox to the Pre- Raphael ites. 

" What was a purple wash became now a network of 
grays and lilacs, with no inconsiderable amount of drawing 
about their rugged peaks ; in fact, such drawing as Nature 
always rejoices in. This post-meridian burst of light augured 
well for the morrow, and, indeed, Tuesday was a prince of 
days, and we worked well. Wednesday and Thursday like- 




wise, though cold latterly went far towards cramping us. 
Ruskin comes and works with us, and we dine on the rocks 
all together, but only on fine days ; so this course of livino- 

^7 * 9 O 

has been very much the exception. Only imagine a paper 
being sent here ' that all stray dogs (during the dog-days) 
be shot ! ' The mention of a mad dog suggests only heat 
and drought. Do dogs ever become mad in Scotland ? 

" Ever yours sincerely, 


To the same. 



"August, 1853. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, My brother William has just 
received your letter, and as you kindly express a wish to hear 

from me, 1 take the present 
opportunity of sending you a 
few lines. 

"This day (Sunday, August 
1 4th) we have been to church, 
and taken a delightful walk to 
a waterfall, following the stream 
till we came to a fall of seventy 
feet, where we had a bath (my 
brother and self), he standing 
under the torrent of water, 
which must have punished his 
back as severely as a soldier's 
cat - o' - nine - tails whipping. 
These mountain rivers afford 
the most delightful baths, per- 
fectly safe, and clear as crystal. 
They are so tempting, that it 
is quite impossible to walk by 
them without undressing and 
jumping in. I am immensely 
surprised to hear that Hunt is 
going to Syria so soon. I 
confess I had begun to think 
that his intended voyage there 
was a mvth, for he has not 




20 % 

spoken to me about leaving- England, although I receive 
letters continually from him. I suppose he thinks it would 
only meet with incredulity. I am painting a portrait of 
Ruskin, with a background of rocks and a waterfall, which 
is close here, so I get at it easily in the morning. 

" This year I am giving myself a holiday, as I have 
worked five years hard. If you have leisure to read, get 
Ruskin's two last volumes of The Stones of Venice, which 
surpass all he has written. He is an indefatigable writer'. 

We have, in fine weather, immense enjoyment, painting out 
on the rocks, and having- our dinner brought to us there, and 
in the evening climbing up the steep mountains for exercise, 
Mrs. Ruskin accompanying us. Last Sunday we all walked 
up Ben Ledi, which was quite an achievement. I am only 
just getting the mountaineer's certainty of step, after ex- 
periencing some rather severe falls, having nearly broken my 
nose, and bruised my thumb-nail so severely that I shall lose 
it. My shins are prismatic with blows against the rocks. . . . 

" Very truly yours, 





To the same. 



"August, 1853. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, . . . Ruskin and myself are 
pitching into architecture ; you will hear shortly to what 
purpose. I think now I was intended for a Master Mason. 
All this day I have been working at a window, which I hope 
you will see carried out very shortly in stone. In my evening 
hours I mean to make many designs for church and other 
architecture, as I find myself quite familiar with constructions, 
Ruskin having given me lessons regarding foundations and 
the building of cathedrals, etc., etc. This is no loss of time 
rather a real relaxation from everyday painting and it is 
immensely necessary that something new and good should 
be done in the place of the old ornamentations. 

" Surely now that there seems more likelihood of a Russian 
war you will not persist in travelling eastward. Assuredly 
you will all lose your heads. You in particular will verify 
your cognomen of ' Early Christian ' in such an event, for 


that was generally their fate. Is there any chance of your 
coming to Edinburgh in October? Do, if you can, and 
hear Ruskin's lectures, and we will have a stroll over the 
city. Does your fountain still play ? Have the gold-fish 
been boiled again? Is Emma still alive? And have you 
finished your shields ? All these things I am anxious to 
know. Yours very faithfully, 



Both Ruskin and Millais felt that in modern architecture, 
no less than in modern painting, the lack of original composi- 
tion and design was painfully evident. They had many talks 
on the subject, and as Mr. Ruskin intended to refer to this 
in a lecture in Edinburgh, Millais exercised himself in the 
evening by sketching designs of all sorts in a book which 
now lies before me. Figures, flowers, and animals are all 
grouped in every conceivable way, principally to be used in 
the decoration of church windows, the chief design being 
done on large sheets of grocery paper bought at a neighbour- 
ing shop, and pasted on strips of canvas fixed together by 
himself. This design (a water-colour drawing for the window 
referred to in the foregoing letter) represented angels saluting 




one another, the light being admitted through ovals, round 
which the arms of each figure clasped and met. It had a 
base line of 109 inches, and was shortly afterwards exhibited 
by Ruskin at his Edinburgh lecture. Many years after that 
it was seen by a noted cleric, who wished to have it carried 
out for a new window in one of our cathedrals. The ex- 
pense, however, was found to be too great, so the idea was 
abandoned. Millais was especially keen to show his ability 
in this particular line, for, to his mind, a true artist should 
be able to design or draw anything, and he had recently been 
somewhat piqued by the observation of a newspaper, that 
"though Millais might be successful in painting, he was in- 
capable of making an architectural design." 

To Mrs. Combe. 


"September 6th, 1853. 

" MY DEAR MRS. COMBE, I am almost ashamed to write 
to you, after permitting so long a time to elapse without 
a letter. I am enjoying myself so much here that I can 
scarcely find time to hold a pen ; it is as much as I can 
do to paint occasionally. To-day I have had a sick head- 
ache, which has prevented me from painting the background 
of a portrait of Ruskin. When the weather permits, we 
all dine out upon the rocks, Mrs. Ruskin working, her 

husband drawing, and myself 
painting. There is only one 
drawback to this almost per- 
fect happiness the midges. 
They bite so dreadfully that 
it is beyond human endur- 
ance to sit quiet, therefore 
many a splendid day passes 
without being able to work. 
This does not grieve me 
much, as I am taking a holi- 
day this season, and when I 
return I mean (if you will 
receive me) to pay you a 
visit. Dr. Acland was stay- 

THE IDLE^AND THE INDUSTRIOUS in g With US a little while 
PAINTER. 1853 


back, and I think greatly enjoyed himself. He is a delightful 
companion, and joined us in games of battledore and shuttle- 
cock, which we play for exercise between hours. 

" Mr. Ruskin is going to lecture in Edinburgh next month, 
and we are busy making drawings for illustration. You will 
probably hear of me as an architect some day ! Are you 
going with Hunt and the Early Christian to Syria? Have 
you heard much of Jenkins, and how is the parson ? The 
service here is as unlike that at Oxford as an oyster is 
unlike a crow. The church is a beautiful little house built 
on the border of a lake, and the minister is a good, hard- 
working, sensible fellow, who lives in the same house as 
we do. . . . The service, I confess, I do not like, but I 
am pleased with the people, who seem all earnestly desirous 
of doing their duty. The church is supported by the 
visitors to the hotels, there being no rich lairds about here, 
nobody but poor old bodies wrapped up in plaids. . . . 

" Yours most truly, 


In 1853 manners and modes of life of the Scotch 
peasantry were somewhat different from what they are now. 
The doggies came to church, as they still do in one or two 
remote districts, and the music was conducted by the pre- 
centor, whose comic personality is admirably hit off in one 
of Millais' sketches. 

William Millais says of this visit to the North : " How 
well I remember our going to the little Free Kirk, arrayed 
as well-turnecl-out Highland men. The service was to us 
somewhat comical, and we could hardly stay it out. The 
precentor was a little very bow-leggecl old man, with the 
wheeziest of voices, and sang the first line of the ' para- 
phrase ' alone, whilst his little shaggy terrier, the image 
of his master, joined in a piteous howl. The other lines 
were sung by the congregation, assisted by a few collies. I 
afterwards tackled the little precentor, and asked him why 
he didn't have an organ. ' Ah, man, would you have us 
take to the devil's band ? ' was his answer. 

" When the sermon came, it was most amusing to us to 
watch the old men passing their rams' horn snuff-mulls to 
one another, and putting little bone spades full of the 
pungent material up their noses to keep them awake. 

"In front of us were two well-dressed young girls, in all 
i. 14 




the newest fashion, and when the shallow offertory-box was 
poked towards them, they put in a farthing. We afterwards 
saw them take off their shoes and stockings and walk home 

" As the whole congregation passed out, my brother 
allowed that they one and all riveted their eyes on his legs, 
and he made up his mind then to get rid of the beastly 
kilt, and left me to carry out his purpose. Just then I 

saw a carriage passing along the high-road, with a man 
gesticulating towards me. I at once recognised him as 
Gambart, the well-known picture-dealer. He stopped the 
vehicle, and got out and asked after my brother, and then 
introduced me to the lady inside ' Mdlle. Rosa Bonheur '- 
who expressed herself enthusiastically upon my appearance. 
'Ah, my dear Millais,' said Gambart, 'Mademoiselle Rosa 
Bonheur has been eagerly on the look-out for the Highland 
garb ever since we left Edinburgh, and yours is the first 
kilt she has seen. You are immortalised.' I told them that 
if they had been a little sooner they would have seen my 
brother in a similar garb. ' How beautiful he must look 



21 I 

in it,' said Gambart. It was a pity they had not seen him. 
We lunched with them at Trossachs Hotel, but nothing 
would induce my brother to don the kilt again." 

Among the most interesting records of this period is a 
large sketch-book of Millais'. The first part is filled with 
highly-finished drawings, illustrating the various " ploys " of 
the party salmon-fishing, sketching, and expeditions in the 
hills the latter half containing comical caricatures of the 
people who came and went. 


In the evenings, after dinner, Art was frequently dis- 
cussed, and Millais would occasionally make fun of the old 
masters, showing in a few lines the chief materials of their 
stock-in-trade. Some of these sketches (given here) are 
interesting as showing how a very few bare lines can be 
made to indicate unmistakably the characteristic styles of 
individual masters, such as Vandyck, Poussin, Greuze, or a 

Mrs. Ruskin, being exceedingly learned in Scottish history, 
used to hold forth occasionally on the doughty deeds of the 
early champions of liberty and Christianity, and delighted 
to narrate the thrilling adventures of Robert Bruce, of the 




Crusaders, and of all the heroes of Highland chivalry. 
One evening Millais pretending, I regret to say, to have 
been much impressed by the woes and afflictions suffered 
by Robert the Bruce in prison, and his subsequent adven- 
tures with a fine specimen of Arachne vulgar is, took the 
sketch-book, saying that so important a subject required 
to be instantly fixed on paper, and he must at once make 
a design for future development. If the reader will turn 

to page 176, he will see how it was that this touching subject 
never found its way to the walls of the Academy. The 
drawing, however, was much appreciated, and led to many 
similar illustrations of Scottish history, such as the siege 
of Dunbar Castle by the English, the adventures of Lord 
James Douglas in the Holy Land, the siege of Acre. etc. 
And these from the same hand that painted " The Yak: 
of Rest" and "The North-West Passage!" To my mind, 
they are as characteristic of Millais as any serious work of 
his. There is force and reason in the broadest and simplest 
lines, to say nothing of the genuine humour they exhibit.* 

* Millais showed these comic sketches to Leech, who was doubtless somewhat 
influenced by them in his subsequent and admirable illustrations for The Comic 
History of England and The Comic History of R<vn<\ 

Line and Sepia drawing 



Before parting with the Ruskin portrait, he repainted the 
whole of the background. He also finished at the same 
time a little picture called "The Highland Lass," now in 
the possession of Mr. Henry Willett. 

One of the keenest disappointments of his early life 
occurred in 1850, when, after being elected to the honour 
of an Associate of the Royal Academy, the appointment 
was quashed on the ground of his extreme youth. Since 



that time, as he could not but know, his works had risen 
year by year in the estimation of the public, but as yet no 
official recognition of their merit had been accorded him by 
the Academy, and he began to feel somewhat sore at this 
neglect. He was, therefore, more than usually interested 
in the coming election, which was to take place on Novem- 
ber yth, 1853. Several influential Academicians had 
promised to vote for him, and, though himself an earnest 
supporter of authority when fairly exercised, he was not 
disposed to have his claim overlooked much longer. 
Gambart and other dealers, knowing that his pictures were 
always in request, had already made him tempting offers 
to exhibit solely with them, and from the commercial point 




of view it might have been to his advantage to do so ; but 
he steadily refused to entertain the idea so long as any doubt 
remained as to the attitude of the Academy. 

Another reason for this decision was that, having taken 

upon himself the champion- 
ship of Pre-Raphaelite prin- 
ciples, he was determined 
to make the Academy ac- 


knowledge his power as the 
chief, if not the only, ex- 
ponent of their principles, 
now that Hunt was off to 
the East, and Rossetti had 
wandered away on his own 
exclusive line ; and if he 
ceased to exhibit there, some 
of those whose opinion he 
valued might perhaps think 
that he was afraid to continue 
the struggle. 

And now the eventful day 
approached. But let William 
Millais tell the tale in his 
own words : " On the day 
when the result of the elec- 
tion of Associates at the 
Royal Academy of Arts was 
to be made known, my 
brother, self, Wilkie and 
Charlie Collins all started 
off to spend a whole day in 
the country to alleviate our 

excitement. Hendon was the chosen locality. My brother 
wore a large gold goose scarf-pin. He had designed a 
goose for himself and a wild duck for me, which were made 
by Messrs. Hunt and Roskell exquisite works of Art. 
We had spent a very jolly day, the principal topic of 
conversation being the coming election, Wilkie Collins 
being confident that Jack's usual luck would attend him 
and that he would certainly be returned an Associate of 
the Royal Academy. 

" We had been walking along a narrow, sandy lane, and, 
meeting a large three-horse waggon, had stepped aside to 





let it pass, when we resumed our way, and shortly afterwards 
Jack's pin was gone ! ' Now, Wilkie,' said my brother, ' how 
about my luck ? This is an ominous sign that I shall not 
get in.' 'Wait a bit, let's go back/ said Wilkie. We were 
all quite sure that he had it on on leaving Hendon. Now, 
the fact of a huge waggon having gone over the ground 
we had travelled by gave us very little hope of seeing the 
golden goose again. A stipulated distance was agreed upon, 
and back we all trudged, scanning the ground minutely. 
I undertook the pacing. The waggon had ploughed deep 
furrows in the sand, and just as we had reached the end 
of our tether, Jack screamed out, ' There it is, by Jove ! ' 
And, in truth, the great gold goose was standing perched 
on a ridge of sand, glistening like the Koh-i-noor itself. We 
went straight to the Royal Academy, and Charles Landseer, 
coming out, greeted my brother with, ' Well, Millais, you 
are in this time in earnest' punning on his name, which they 
had entered as 'John Ernest Millais' instead of John Everett 

It was on the day following the election that D. G. 
Rossetti wrote to his sister Christina (Letters of D. G. 
Rossetti to William Allinghani] : " Millais, I just hear, was 
last night elected an Associate ; 
so now the whole Round Table 
is dissolved" meaning, no doubt, 
that Millais, having been received 
into the fold of the recognised 
authority, would cease to support 
the heterodox principles he had 
till then so strongly upheld. But 
nothing could be further from his 

He quietly continued his work 
on the same lines till 1860, 
when his painting of minute 
detail became gradually merged 
in greater breadth of treatment. 
Look at the landscape in "Chill 
October" (1875) and "The Wood- 
man's Daughter" (1849). The 
effect is the same ; only the mode 
of expression is different. He 
gained the technique used in the 





first-named picture through the scholastic and self-imposed 
labour of the second. 

Millais' next letter is in reply to one from Mr. Combe, 
inviting him to stay again at Oxford, and announcing the 
joyful fact that he had purchased Hunt's great picture, 
" The Light of the World," a picture which Millais greatly 


To Mr. Combe. 


" Thursday Evening, December, 1853. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, I am sorry that I cannot possibly 
leave town next week, as I find I shall be required by the 
Royal Academy to receive my diploma. After that, I must 
really set about working, for 1 must get something done for 
the Exhibition. . . . 

" I called to-day upon Sir Charles Eastlake, the President, 
and he told me I must stay in London for the Committee- 
meeting next week, which is not fixed. I congratulate you 
on having bought 'The Light of the World.' You are a 
sensible man. 

A pencil drawing made by herself from an oil painting by Millias 


" I have just returned from dining with Ruskin's father, 
and am a little tired and sleepy, so I must finish this ; for, as 
a true friend, you must wish me to go to bed. Good-night. 
My love to Mrs. Pat. 

"Yours very faithfully, 


To the same. 


"Monday, December 26th, 1853. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, I am ashamed of myself for not 
having written to you before this to explain about Hunt's 
likeness [drawn by himself]. I am so pleased with it that, 
as I have no other, I must keep if for myself, but will copy 
it for you and send it in the course of a week or two. . . . 
I thought you were going to accompany Hunt to Syria. 
What do you mean by neglecting your promise ? . . . Now 
that Hunt is going I don't know what will become of me. 

" I hope you have all spent a happy Xmas, a more cheer- 
ful one than I spent ; for I had no dinner, and was strolling 
about London between church services. In the morning 
I attended Wells Street, and in the evening Dr. Gumming s 
the north and south poles of religious ceremony. Cum- 
ming is a wonderful man, sincere and eloquent. The Scotch 
are very manly and honest. I heard a great man named 
Guthrie in Edinburgh the finest preacher I ever heard. . . . 

" Ever yours, 



End of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Walter Deverell His illness and death 
Holman Hunt in the East Letters from him "The Scapegoat"- 
"The Blind Girl" and " L'Enfant du Regiment" Winchelsea Thackeray 
writes whilst Millais paints An eccentric vicar Success of "The Blind 
Girl" Ruskin's description of it John Luard Millais in Scotland with 
Halliday, Luard, and Charles Collins Paris Exhibition of 1855 The English 
school at last recognised How " The Rescue " came to be painted Letters 
from Dickens Models for "The Rescue" and criticisms on it Appreciation 
by Thomas Spencer Baynes Millais loses his temper and speaks out Bene- 
ficial result Firemen at work Letters from William Allingham Frederick 

MILLAIS, as we have seen, was now one of the elect 
of the Royal Academy, and his picture, " The 
Huguenot," had added much to his reputation as an artist ; 
but it is quite a mistake to assume, as so many writers have 
done, that after this date the current of his life ran smoothly 
on without any serious obstruction or impediment. His 
great fight perhaps the greatest fight of all was yet to 
come; and as 1853 drew to a close, the elation he might 
otherwise have felt was restrained by circumstances and 
considerations of no small moment to a man of his sensitive 
nature. Leading members of the Academy were, as he 
well knew, prejudiced against him ; the Press continued to 
jeer at him as an enthusiast in a false style of Art ; D. G. 
Rossetti, wounded by their carping and insulting criticism of 
his "Annunciation," had retired from the contest; Walter 
Deverell, a devoted friend of Millais and an ardent sup- 
porter of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, was seriously ill ; 
and now that Hunt, his greatest and strongest ally, was 
about to leave for the East, he knew that upon him alone 
would devolve the duty of maintaining the cause to which 
he had devoted his life as an artist. Charlie Collins, it is 
true, was still with him, and in " Mike " Halliday and Leech 
he had found other firm and faithful friends ; but, highly 




skilled as these three men were, both as artists and con- 
noisseurs, they could hardly be expected to share the 
enthusiasm of himself and Hunt for a cause which they had 
made so peculiarly their own. Individual Pre-Raphaelites, 
such as Collinson, Hughes, and others, were doing good 


work, and the Academy did not exclude their paintings 
at the annual exhibitions ; but the Brotherhood itself no 
longer existed in its old form as a body of associated 
workers. It had become indeed, as Hunt says in one ot 
his letters, " a solemn mockery, and died of itself." 

A few words about Walter Deverell may not be out of 
place here ; for, apart from Millais' affection for him, as 


evidenced by the following- letters, he was a youth of rare 
character and great gifts, who yet, like poor Chatterton, 
ended his life in the deepest depths of poverty. On the 
death of his father in 1853 he struggled hard to maintain 
not only himself, but his brothers and sisters by the sale 
of his pictures ; but, some two years before his own death, 
his health began to give way, and at last failed altogether 
under the distress of finding it impossible to keep the home 
together. Consumption set in, and early in 1854 he passed 
away. It was only a few weeks before this that Millais 
discovered the dire necessity of his friend, when he hastened 
at once to his relief. Without saying a word to him, he 
took steps to secure the sale of his last picture. Two of 
the Pre-Raphaelite Brothers sent a stranger to buy it, and 
in ignorance of this little ruse, poor Deverell rejoiced in 
being able to provision his household and stave off the 
reaper for at least a short time longer. Referring to this 
incident, Holman Hunt says : " Millais came to me one 
day and said, ' Deverell is in great straits. Let us buy his 
picture. Will you give half, if I do ? ' So the picture 
was bought, and Deverell for the while tided over his 
financial difficulties." 

As to the man himself, Mr. Arthur Hughes has given 
us an account in The Letters of D. G. Rossetti to William 
Allingham. He describes him as "a manly young fellow, 
with a feminine beauty added to his manliness ; exquisite 
manners and a most affectionate disposition. He died early, 
after painting two or three pictures. Had he lived he 
would have been a poetic painter, but not a strong one. 
Millais, hardworking and ambitious though he was, used to 
sit hour after hour by his bedside, reading to him." 

The following letters tell their own tale. Millais appealed 
to the Combes for help lor his friend, and they responded 
with characteristic kindness of heart : 

To Mrs. Combe. 


" December 3O//?, 1853. 

" MY DEAR MRS. PAT, I have a young friend, an artist of 
the name of Deverell (maybe Hunt has spoken to you about 
him). He is very clever, but unfortunately will never have 
strength again sufficient to follow his profession. He is 

i8 53 ] WALTER DEVERELL 225 

given up for lost by three doctors, but may last through the 
winter with great care. He has no mother alive, and his 
father died about four months ago, leaving him in destitution, 
with a family of little brothers and sisters to support. The 
efforts he made to this end, I expect, hastened on internal 
disease, and now he is confined to his bed. 

" Besides his own melancholy illness, a poor little girl, 
about eight years of age, was, soon after the father's death, 
struck with paralysis in the right arm, the use of which she 
has lost for life. Indeed, there seems to be a curse upon the 
family. The father was a very learned man, but a deter- 
mined atheist, and died without altering his opinions. His 
behaviour was frightfully cruel to his now dying son. He 
would never permit his children to attend church, turning 
religion into ridicule upon all occasions. My poor friend is 
so careless of himself, and his eldest sister is so unfit to 
nurse him, that I write to ask you whether you can assist 
me in any way by recommending a good, kind person who 
could read to him, and see to his taking his meals punctually 
only bread and milk. Last night I was with him, and was 
grieved to see the apathy of the servant and his sister, who 
had been out that night to a dance, and was now gone to 
bed! There was no fire in the room, and the invalid was 
hanging partly out of his bed, with his hands as cold as ice. 
... I am going there again to-night, to amuse him. It is 
almost cruel to tell him of his danger, as lie is so alive to 
the distress that w r ill come upon his family in the event of 
his dying ; therefore, I have not spoken upon the subject, 
neither have the medical men, who seem to think he should 
be kept as cheerful as possible. Until now he has declined 
having a nurse, because of the expense, but I have per- 
suaded him, as I would rather pay for the woman myself 
than let him continue to be neglected. ... I spoke to 
Ruskin about him, and he has been extremely kind, his 
father sending him chicken and jellies, but these he cannot 
touch himself, as he is obliged to live upon milk and toast. 

. . Next spring I purpose leaving England for the Con- 
tinent, as I am sick of this rain and freezing climate. 

" I shall take it as a favour if you will inquire quietly for 
me about a nurse for D , as he is gradually wasting away, 
and I should like him to be more comfortable. 

" Ever yours, 



To Mr. Combe. 


"January, 1854. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, I have made a drawing of Hunt, 
which I think you will find very like. It is not a copy of 
the one I have, but another I drew on Sunday evening. I 
will get it framed for you (as it would rub, sent as it is), and 
forward it as soon as it is out of the frame-maker's hands. . . . 
I shall see Deverell this evening. He would not see Mr. 


Stuart when I mentioned it to him. He has some relations, 
clergymen, whom he says he can see whenever he wishes. 

'' To-day I was expecting Ruskin to sit to me for his 
portrait, which I was painting in the Highlands. 

" Hunt goes now either to-night or to-morrow. I shall not 
believe he is gone until Mrs. Bradshaw, his landlady, says he 
is not at home. I never knew such a fellow ; his room looks 
as though it had been given over to the tender care of a dozen 
monkeys in his absence. Ever yours, 


To Mrs. Combe. 


" Febniary $rd, 1854. 

" Mv DEAR MRS. PAT, I have just come from inquiring 
after Deverell, who died whilst I was in the house. I sent 
(for I could not see him) a message urging him to see a 
clergyman, but when the cousin who had been with him got 
to the door of his room she found it locked, and ascertained 
from the nurse within that all was over. 

' ; This same lady had often desired him to permit the visit 
of a clergyman, but without obtaining his consent. Latterly 
he would not, or rather could not, listen to what was said to 
him. ... I did my best to prevail, but he always declined. 
He was quite sensible, and received most calmly the news of 
his coming death. 

" I have had a most amusing letter from Hunt. He seems 
to have really reached Marseilles, but of course not without 
disasters, one of which was the breaking of a bottle of 
varnish in his portmanteau, which obliged him to unpack 
everything, and to wash the compartment before replacing 
the things. Ever yours most truly, 


oo tC 
- '% 

~ . a 




i8 5 4] 



After this came a long series of letters from Holman 
Hunt, elated from various parts of Egypt and Palestine, 
where in 1854 and 1856 he was engaged in collecting 
materials for his pictures, and produced, amongst other 
works, that magnificent painting, "The Scapegoat." These 
letters, Pre-Raphaelite in detail and often admirably illus- 
trated, are full of interest, not only as a record of his 
wanderings in the East and the adventures he met with, 

Pencil design. Circ. 1854 

but as a reflex of his observant mind and his constant 
solicitude for his friends at home. For Millais more par- 
ticularly they betray a warmth of interest that could only 
exist between such congenial and affectionate friends. But 
I must necessarily limit myself here to such of them as 
refer more especially to the subject of this memoir, or to 
matters in which they were mutually interested. 

Writing from Cairo in 1854, he says: "I hope you will 
come out in the autumn. Seddon (an artist friend) will have 
gone back by then, and I will have made some way into 
the language, if possible. I am very likely to remain abroad 
for a year or two, for it is impossible to do any good in 


merely passing- through a country, particularly when one 
has so many prejudices to overcome as exist here. I wish 
we could meet abroad to work and travel together for a 
good while, with occasionally another or two for companions 
Halliday for one. The advantage of being away from 
London is that riddance from bores, personal and impersonal, 
one meets with there, and (with one or two intimates at 
hand) the possibility of keeping all wandering ones at bay 
might be attained. I don't teel certain as to the best 
place to remain in. This may be the most convenient and 
practicable, but my inclination points to Beirout, or some 
other quarter where God's works are more prominent than 
those of man. 

"Certainly cultivate a beard. I am persuaded to over- 
come my Anglican prejudice in favour of a clean chin. 
I should not do so, however, if I found it disguised my 
nationality, for that is worth every other protection one 
travels with. It compels cringing obedience and fear 
from every native, even a dog. With this, indeed, and a 
stick, or, in fact, with only a fist, I would undertake to 
knock down any two Arabs in the Esbekir and walk away 
unmolested, and even with the hope that they should be 
well bastinadoed for having given me so much voluntary 

There would be very few artists in London if they had 
such difficulties in procuring models as poor Hunt had to 
face in 1854. Writing from Cairo, in March of that year, 
he says : " I wish my attempts to get models had been 
encouraging in the result. Bedouins may be hired in twenties 
and thirties, merely by paying them a little more than their 
usually low rate of wages, and these are undoubtedly the 
finest men in the place ; but when one requires the men of 
the city, or the women, the patience of an omnibus-man 
going up Piccadilly with two jibbing horses on an Exhibi- 
tion-day is required. I have made the attempt to get a 
woman to sit, until, at the end of a fortnight or three weeks, 
I have realised nothing but despair, although I have spared 
no pains and have prejudiced my moral reputation to achieve 
my purpose. The first chance my servant discovered, I 
knew it would not do to inquire too narrowly into the 
character of the people ; so I followed him without question 
into a house where at everv door there was a fresh investi^a- 

* O 

tion of myself, in such sort as to make it appear a matter 




of the greatest good fortune when I found myself at the 
top of the house entering the guest-room. This was a small 
chamber without much furniture, but surrounded with divan 
seats in front of a lattice-work mushrabee, where people sit 
for the cool air in the heat of the day. No one was present, 
so I had leisure to examine the objects in the room and 
speculate upon the beauty of the houris of the establish- 
ment, and to make some study of the manner in which I 


would arrange the sketch which I should have to do that 
same day. And here I heard women's voices outside. 
Several entered veiled. With but only about twenty words 
of Arabic and a great deal of impatience, I could not afford 
much ceremony, so after I had fired off the nineteen I 
thought it time to walk up to the most graceful figure, utter the 
remaining word, 'yea bint,' and lift up her veil a proceeding 
for which they were scarcely prepared. The shy ' daughter 
of the full moon ' squinted ; and on turning to others, I 


discovered that Nature had blessed each with some such 
invaluable departure from the monotony of ideal perfection. 

"'The evening- star' had lost her front teeth, 'the sister 
of the sun ' had several gashes in her cheek, while ' the 
mother of the morning ' had a face in pyramid shape. 
I told my man to express my regret that heaven had not 
bestowed on me enough talent to do justice to that order 
of beauty, by shying some backsheesh to the old woman, 
while I took one by the neck and gently hurled her on to the 
floor for having attempted to intercept my passage by the 
door. A fight with a man or two in going downstairs and 
an encounter with several dogs in the yard, and I found 
myself in the street, with my man behind me in a state of 
utter bewilderment at the turn affairs had taken. The next 
day I applied to the wife of the English missionary, who 
replied that it was a matter of the greatest difficulty. She 
had once induced a girl to sit, but then it was to a clergy- 
man. Perhaps it might be possible to get her again for 
me, but not at present, for it was a great fast, which was 
observed at home indoors, and, moreover, she herself was 
just setting out for Mount Sinai for two or three months, 
and without her presence in the room nothing could be done. 
The day after this I persuaded my landlord to exert him- 
self, which ended in his procuring me a lady as ugly 
as a daguerrotype, whom 1 dismissed after I had blunted 
my pencil in my sketch-book. In the afternoon I had 
another woman seized, who turned out to be uglier than 
any I had seen. All the public women seem to be chosen 
to show the repulsiveness of vice at first glance a wise 
system that deserves more success than it would seem to 
meet. There are beautiful women here. In the country 
the fellah girls wear no veils and but very little dress, and 
these in their prime are perhaps the most graceful creatures 
you could see anywhere. In prowling about the village one 
day I came face to face with one of them, and could not 
but stop and stare at her. She could not pass, and when 
I saw this I thought some apology was necessary. Seddon's 
Hippopotamus* was with me, but I only explained my 
desire to him without further satisfaction than could be got 
by his going through his complete lesson with all its varia- 
tions of ' Vare kood, ser ; yes, ser, vare kood, ser ; tiab 
contere quies vare kood, ser.' 

* A fat dragoman. 

"THE GHOST." 1853 
Pen drawing 

i8 S4 ] HOLMAN HUNT 235 

" Good-bye, old fellow. Commend my memory most 
kindly to your mother and father and brother, and all 
other friends. I am afraid I cannot write to the Collins's 
at once, for I want to settle to work first. Remember me 
to them affectionately. I will enclose a note to jolly old 
Halliday. I have a good excuse for not writing many 
letters, for, besides the engagements which one finds abroad, 
I have the plea of great difficulty in getting them posted. 
One cannot pay postage here, and I have to get them con- 
veyed by hand to Alexandria for that purpose. God defend 
you always! Yours, W. HOLMAN HUNT." 

All through the summer, autumn, and winter of 1854 
Hunt remained in Jerusalem, encountering many difficulties 
and not a little personal danger. Writing from there on 
November roth, he expresses his delight at hearing from 
Millais, adding : " It may be interesting to you to know 
that my tent was pitched on the plain of Mamre, under a 
tree still called 'Abraham's Tree,' where he entertained the 
three angels. (The tree, however, though an immense and 
ancient one, has no just claim to the dignity.) Here I laid 
down in the middle of the day, and took out your letters 
Halliday's and your own which I had brought with me, 
and re-read them again with a delight which made every 
word like pure water to a thirsty soul. I could remember 
Winchelsea so clearly, all our walks there together, and our 
meal at the inn, and I could imagine you and jolly Halliday 
working there within sight and sound of the sea. And how 
I could have joyed to be with you, to talk together for a 
few hours ! Some day again I hope to see you, and not 
long hence. A few months, and I shall look for spring and 
England together. I am often sorry that you are no longer 
in Gower Street, for I cannot picture you returned to town, 
in a strange studio, and merry Halliday away from Robert 
Street. The idea is almost like losing you, for the picture 
of a pretty cottage at Kingston is not drawn from Nature, 
and may be all wrong. 

"After all, your letter was full of sad incidents, notably 
the horrible death of the landlord of the inn. Such things 
make one despair of the world. Six thousand years, and 
so much evil ! I think people look on and moralise too 
much. Sometimes I have an idea of an active future, in 
the fall of everything decent and respectable. I hope we 
may devise some means of serving God together. I am 


in gloom sometimes as to the capacity of Art ; but I 
have no permanent despondency on the subject. It must 
be equally strong as an instrument of either good or evil, 
and of the latter one cannot doubt its power. 

" Halliday told me your subject ('The Blind Girl'), which 
I think a very beautiful one. It is an incident such as makes 
people think and love more. It is wrong to doubt of the 
good, after one has become convinced enough to take a 
subject in hand. I went over all your news and your 
reflections ; and, to realise the idea of our being together, 
I used Halliday's envelope to make cigarettes with, and 
fancied you through the fumes. . . . 

" For the next week or two I shall be stationed about 
sixty miles from Jerusalem, and with no means of des- 
patching letters thence or communicating with any human 
being above a wild Arab. The prospect is sufficiently 
dreary, to say the least of it, but I am tempted to it for 
the sake of a serious subject that has come into my head, 
for the next exhibition of the Academy. ... In Leviticus 
xvi. 20 you will read an account of the scapegoat sent away 
into the wilderness, bearing- all the sins of the children of 
Israel, which, of course, was instituted as a type of Christ. 
My notion is to represent this accursed animal with the 
mark of the priest's hands on his head, and a scarlet ribbon 
which was tied to him, escaped in horror and alarm to 
the plain of the Dead Sea, and in a death -thirst turning 
away from the bitterness of this sea of sin. If I can contend 
with the difficulties and finish the picture at Usdoom, it 
cannot fail to be interesting, if only as a representation of 
one of the most remarkable spots in the world ; and I 
am sanguine that it may be further a means of leading any 
reflecting Jews to see a reference to the Messiah as He was, 
and not (as they understand) a temporal king. 

" My last journey was to discover an appropriate place 
for the scene, and this I found only at the southern extremity 
of the lake where the beach is thickly encrusted with salt, 
and notwithstanding a remarkable beauty, there is an air 
of desolation . . . exclusively belonging to it. Usdoom is 
a name applied to a mountain standing in the plain, which 
from the resemblance in sound is thought to be part of 
Sodom. Its greater part is pure salt, which drips through 
into long pendants whenever the water descends." 

After referring to the victories of the allied troops at 



Balaclava and Alma, he continues : " I am beyond every- 
thing gratified at seeing that God has not taken away the 
lion hearts and the strong arms from English and Scotch. 
War is horrible, but not less justifiable, to my mind, than 
the slaying of animals for food, which is also revolting, when 
considered independent of the necessity." 

Writing again on January 24th, 1855, Hunt says: "I 
wonder how you all go on in London. No Pre-Raphaelite 
Brotherhood meetings, of course. The thing was a solemn 
mockery two or three years past, and died of itself. ... 
I shall be glad to leave this 
unholy land, beautiful and in- 
teresting as it is. Never did 
people deserve to lose their 
empire so thoroughly as these 
Arabs. If they were left alone 
for a few years, they would com- 
plete the work themselves." 

The concluding words of this 
letter are so quaintly redolent of 
the scriptural air he was then 
breathing, that it would be quite a 
sin to omit them : " Remember 
me most kindly to your mother 
and father and brother of happy 
memory, and greet all my other 
friends of an inquiring turn of 
mind, of whom I regard Mrs. 

Collins as president. Remember 

me to the secretary, also Wilkie, 

and salute Charley brotherly (tell 

him I hope to bring him an Arab scalp even yet), also 

Stephens, to whom I cannot write this time. Thank him 

for the newspaper he sends me. I hope you get on well 

with your pictures. I am working like a baby in the Art." 

In the spring the traveller was back in England again, and 
then their delightful meetings were once more resumed. 

I must now hark back to the beginning of 1854, when 
Millais had in mind two pictures "The Blind Girl" and 
" L'Enfant du Regiment" (or, as it is more commonly 
called, "The Random Shot") both of which he was 
anxious to commence at once, and to paint concurrently. 
The latter demanded as a background the interior of a 

2 3 8 



church, and for some time during the autumn he roved about 
in search of one suitable to his purpose. At last, on the 
recommendation of a friend, he started for VVinchelsea, 
accompanied by Mike Halliday, and there he was fortunate 
enough to find what he wanted in the old Priory Church 
of Icklesham, about a mile away, and in the same neigh- 
bourhood the landscape he required for "The Blind Girl." 

But first he must settle the point of view from which 
to paint the interior ; to which end he visited the church 
on several consecutive days. At length the sexton's curiosity 
was excited as to the object of this mysterious visitor, and 

he asked him what he wanted. 
" Oh," said Millais, " I want to 
paint the church." " Well, then, 
young man," replied the sexton, 
" you need not hano- about here 

J O 

any longer, for the church was 
all done up fresh last year." It 
is an old - told tale, this, for 
Thackeray got hold of it, and 
told it at the clubs ; but it is 
none the less true. I have 
heard my father tell it himself. 

Another tale about this Win- 
chelsea expedition is also worth 
repeating. About a month after 
Millais' arrival Thackeray ap- 
peared on the scene, and the 
two worked together, Millais 
painting while Thackeray went on with Denis Duval, that 
fragment of a fine novel, unhappily left unfinished, in which 
the principal character was drawn from Millais himself. \Yhile 
thus engaged they were not altogether unobserved. To 
borrow a line from one of Thackeray's most amusing ballads, 
"A gent had got his i on 'em," the "gent" being an eccentric 
old clergyman of the neighbourhood who looked in now and 
then, and one Sunday morning appeared in the pulpit when 
they were in church. They were sitting right in front of him, 
and this dear old divine, catching sight of Millais, directed 
his discourse to the comparative beauties of Nature and Art. 
There was no mistaking what he meant, for, warming up as 
he went along, he punctuated his remarks by personal appeals 
to the artist as to the inferiority of man's work to God's. 

1 854] 


2 39 

Leaning over the pulpit with outstretched hands, and eyes 
fixed on Millais, he cried aloud, "Can you paint that? Can 
you paint that ? " And then, turning to the congregation as 
he slowly drew himself upright, he added in solemn tones, 
"No, my brethren, he cannot paint that" Again and again 
this embarrassing scene was repeated, until at last Millais and 
his friend became almost hysterical in the effort to suppress 
their laughter. 

Coming now to the painting which led to these sensational 
incidents, "The Random Shot," 
I am glad to avail myself of 
Mr. F. C. Stephen's description 
of it in the following words : 
" This small picture represents 
an incident in the French 
Revolution, where some of the 
populace, attacking a church 
which is defended by the mili- 
tary, have accidentally wounded 
a soldier's child who had been 
taken there for safety. The 
little one, wrapped in his father's 
coat, has just sobbed itself to 
sleep on the tomb of a knight, 
where the child had been laid 
out of further clanger ; the tears 
of pain have ceased to trickle 
down its face, and its sobbings 
have found rest in sleep. The 
tomb is of alabaster, mostly of 

pure white, but dashed and streaked with pearly fawn and 
grey tints, according to the nature of the material, which 
acquires from time an inner tint of saffron and pale gold. 
The tale of ' The Random Shot ' is explained by showing 
some soldiers firing out of a window of the church." 

The tomb on which the child is lying is that of Gervaise 
A Hard, knight, one of the many beautiful works of art still 
to be seen in the old church at Icklesham. Dante Rossetti 
was probably right in saying that the artist's first idea was to 
depict the scene as taking place in a church besieged by 
Cromwell, for several of the sketches in my possession 
suggest more forcible and warlike movement than is to be 
found in the picture itself. The child, too, w r as originally 





painted in several attitudes before that of repose was 

" The Blind Girl," a still more pathetic subject, is described 
by Mr. Spielmann as "the most luminous with bright golden 
light of all Millais' works, and for that reason the more deeply 
pathetic in relation to the subject. Madox Brown was right 
when he called it ' a religious picture, and a glorious one,' for 
God's bow is in the sky, doubly a sign of Divine promise 
specially significant to the blind. Rossetti called it ' one of 
the most touching and perfect things I know,' and the Liver- 
pool Academy endorsed his opinion by awarding to it their 

annual prize, although the public 
generally favoured Abraham 
Solomon's ' Waiting for the 
Verdict.' Sunlight seems to 
issue from the picture, and 
bathes the blind girl blind 
alike to its glow, to the beauties 
of the symbolic butterfly that 
has settled upon her, and to 
the token in the sky. The 
main rainbow is doubtless too 
strong and solid. Millais him- 
self told the story of how, not 
knowing that the second rain- 
bow is not really a ' double ' 
one, but only a reflection of the 
first, he did not reverse the order 
of its colours as he should have 

done, and how, when it was pointed out to him, he put the 
matter right, and was duly feed for so doing. But the error 
is a common one. I have seen it in pictures by Troyon and 
others, students of Nature all their lives, who yet had never 
accurately observed. The precision of handling is as re- 
markable as ever, and the surrounding collection ot birds and 


beasts evinces extraordinary draughtsmanship." 

In 1898, when the picture was seen again in the midst of 
Millais' other Pre-Raphaelite works, nearly all the critics 
agreed that, for a general balance of qualities, it should take 
the first place in the collection; the Spectator remarking that : 
" Nowhere else in the whole rano-e of his works did the 


painter produce such a beautiful piece of landscape. The 
picture is full of truth and full of beauty, and the grass glows 

i8 S 4] 



and sparkles in the sunlight after the storm. The colour 
throughout is as brilliant as paint can make it, but perfectly 
harmonious at the same time. Of quite equal beauty are the 
two figures, the blind musician and her child companion, and 
the pathos is so admirably kept in its proper place that it is 
really touching. There is a true humanity about this picture 
as well as great artistic qualities." 

But best of all is Mr. Ruskin's refined and accurate descrip- 
tion of the picture. He says : " The background is an open 
English common, skirted by the tidy houses of a well-to-do 
village in the cockney rural districts. I have no doubt the 
scene is a real one within some twenty miles from London, 

and painted mostly on the spot. A pretty little church has 
its window-traceries freshly whitewashed by order of the 
careful warden. The common is a fairly spacious bit of 
ragged pasture, and at the side of the public road passing 
over it the blind girl has sat down to rest awhile. She is a 
simple beggar, not a poetical or vicious one a girl of eighteen 
or twenty, extremely plain-featured, but healthy, and just now 
resting, not because she is much tired, but because the sun 
has but this moment come out after a shower, and the smell 
of the grass is pleasant. The shower has been heavy, and is 
so still in the distance, where an intensely bright double rain- 
bow is relieved against the departing thunder-cloud. The 
freshly wet grass is all radiant through and through with the 
new sunshine ; the weeds at the girl's side as bright as a 
i. 16 




Byzantine enamel, and inlaid with blue veronica ; her up- 
turned face all aglow with the light which seeks its way 
through her wet eyelashes. Very quiet she is, so quiet that 
a radiant butterfly has settled on her shoulder, and basks 
there in the warm sun. Against her knee, on which her poor 
instrument of beggary rests, leans another child, half her age 

her guide. Indifferent this one to sun or rain, only a little 
tired of waiting." 

Neither the background nor the figures in this work were 
finished at Icklesham, the middle distance being, I think, 
painted in a hayfield near the railway bridge at Barnhill, just 
outside of Perth. Perth, too, supplied the models from 

which the figures were finished. The rooks and domestic 
animals were all painted from Nature, as was also the tortoise- 
shell butterfly (not a Death's-head, as Mr. Spielmann has it), 
which was captured for the purpose. Both here and in " The 
Random Shot " the backgrounds were painted with extra- 
ordinary energy and rapidity, and the work, as in most of 
the artist's best productions, went on without a hitch. 

I find, amongst my father's letters, one from Professor 
Herkomer, dated April 5th, 1893, m which he says : 
" I cannot refrain from writing to you, to tell you of the 
effect your picture, 'The Blind Girl' (1856), had upon me 
when I saw it in Birmingham lately. I am no longer a 
youngster, but I assure you that that work so fired me, so 
enchanted, and so altogether astonished me, that I am pre- 

1 854] 



pared to begin Art all over again. The world of Art is 
your deep debtor for that work, and so am I. P.S. Do tell 
me the yellow you used for the grass." 

The first owner of "The Blind Girl" was Mr. T. Miller, 
of Preston ; the second, Mr. W. Graham ; and, after passing 
through other hands, it became the property of Mr. Albert 
Wood, of Conway. For its subsequent history I am in- 
debted to Mr. Whitworth Wallis, Curator of the City of 
Birmingham Art Gallery, who says : " I borrowed ' The 
Blind Girl ' from Mr. Albert Wood in 1891, and induced him 
to part with it to Mr. William Kenrick, who presented it 
to the Art Gallery here as a permanent record of the success 

of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Exhibition held in this 

^ " 

In the autumn of 1854 Millais betook himself again to 
Scotland, in search of health and amusement, accompanied 
on this occasion by his friends Charlie Collins, Mike 
Halliday, and John Luard, of whom I must now say a 
few words. John Dalbiac Luard (to give him his full name) 
began life as an officer in the 82nd Foot, but so devoted 
was he to Art, that in 1853 he left the service and took up 
painting as a profession. Sharing with Millais a studio in 
Langham Chambers, which they occupied together for some 
years in fact nearly down to the time of poor Luard's 
death in 1860 he gave himself up to military subjects, of 
which "The Welcome Arrival" and " Nearing Home" were 




exhibited in the Royal Academy and subsequently engraved. 
His brother, Colonel Luard, kindly sends me a number of 
sketches that Millais made of himself and his companions 
during this tour, and assures me that the likeness of his 
brother is wonderfully good. In the first of the series re- 
produced here we see the three men together. They have 
just arrived in Scotland, and, having made no plans before- 
hand, are at a loss to know what to do. Millais, in his 
impulsive way, suggests, "Oh, we'll go over and see - 
at Aytoun. He'll be simply delighted to see us and give 
us some shooting. . . . Oh, no ! There 's not the slightest 
need to give notice. We '11 start early and get there in time 

for breakfast." And so they did : they started very early 
next morning with the consequences depicted. However, 
they got their day's shooting, marred only by a trifling 
accident on the part of little Mike, who bagged Luard and 
the footman instead of the rabbit he was aiming at. 

Later on, when Halliday and Luard left, Charlie Collins 
suggested a walking tour with Millais, and they started out 
together, eventually finding themselves at Banavie, near 
Fort William, where they seem to have come across " Long 
John," of whiskey fame, who entertained them with samples 
of his wares. Most of the second series of sketches were 
made here, and in these the peculiarities of Collins' garments 
are not forgotten. In the kindness of his heart Collins 
looked rather to the necessities of his tailor than to his 
skill, with results quite appalling to worshippers of fashion. 


For similar reasons, too, he abjured fishing, a pastime he 
delighted in above all others. An indication of this is seen 
in the sketch, No. 9, where the artist and his companion 
appear at a critical moment. The fisherman playing the 
salmon is Captain Heyvvood, of the 82nd, a quondam brother- 
officer of Luard's. 

The Paris Exhibition was now coming on. It was to be 
opened early in 1855, and Millais, being anxious that 
English Art should be well represented, addressed the 
following letter 

To Mr. Combe. 


"3O//^ January, 1855. 

" MY DEAR MR. COMBE, I was dining last Saturday at 
a friend's Mr. Arden's and met Redgrave, one of the 
managers of the Art department for the Paris Exhibition. 
He mentioned that you had kindly promised them ' The 
Light of the World,' and asked whether it was possible to 
get another of Hunt's and another of mine. I promised 
to write and ask whether you would send also either ' The 
Return of the Dove' or Hunt's picture. I know this is 
asking a great deal, as you would be for some little time 
without seeing your property ; but if you can spare them, 
for the sake of showing the Frenchmen that we have a 


school of painters in this country (which they doubt), you 
would be doing something towards correcting that mistake. 
Of course the pictures are fully insured by Government, so 
you would be risking no loss ; but you understand this, I 
daresay. Just let me know how you look upon this request, 
and I will write to Redgrave. . . . 

" I still half reside with Mrs. C., that strong-minded old 
lady. I dined there yesterday, and met Dickens, and after- 
wards all went to the theatre. I am hard at work, and 
never have time for anything but painting, eating, and 
sleeping. I suppose you hear as much from Hunt as I 
do. There is a letter from him to a mutual friend, but none 
for me this post. He returns soon now, I think. Give my 
best greeting to Mrs. Pat. I wish you could both see my 
new r rooms. Come up to town soon and see 

" Ever yours sincerely, 





It was an important occasion this, for in the eyes of France 
England, as "a nation of shopkeepers," had nothing to show 
in the way of pictorial art ; nothing, at least, that would 
compare for a moment with the works of her own artists ; 
and now, for the first time in the history of the two nations, 
English painters were invited to show what they could do 
in open competition with their neighbours. Millais sent, 
amongst other pictures, "The Order of Release," "Ophelia," 
and " The Return of the Dove to the Ark " ; and other 
eminent artists contributed freely, sending out specimens of 
their finest works. The result was a veritable triumph for 
British Art, and was freely and handsomely acknowledged 

as such by the French Press. Theophile Gautier, the great 
French critic of the period, betrayed some bias not altogether 
unnatural in favour of his own countrymen, yet even he 
acknowledged the sterling merits of the English exhibits 
as far beyond what he had anticipated ; and M. Duranty, 
a later and almost equally well-known critic, was still more 
complimentary. But perhaps the following critique, trans- 
lated from one of the French papers, reflects most nearly the 
general opinion of the Press. 

"The English contribution of paintings in 1855 was 
second in numbers only to the French, and came upon the 
Continental visitors to the Exhibition as a surprise. It was 
even more than a surprise, it was a revelation a revelation 
of a school whose existence was not even suspected ; and 
English painters, but little esteemed till then, obtained a 
very great success. The distribution of awards is in most 




cases an unsatisfactory thing, and does not necessarily prove 
or disprove merit ; but, of whatever value they may be 
thought, thirty-four were obtained by British artists in that 

The reasons for this success are very lucidly explained 
by each of these critics. Novelty, the contrast with, and 
even the opposition to, Continental methods and ideals, 
the complete emancipation from tradition, the influence 
of the Pre-Raphaelites, the exceedingly strong local colour, 
the conscientious endeavour to reflect Nature, and the 
renunciation of self on the part of the artists : these, amongst 

<tCou" <*"f 

other circumstances, created a very strong impression upon 
the European public interested in Art, and were undoubtedly 
the chief features in the success achieved. The paintings of 
Messrs. Ansdell, Martin, Mulready, Millais, Hunt, Frith, 
Paton, Landseer, Danby, and Corbould were especially 
singled out for notice, Messrs. Noel Paton, Mulready, and 
Millais receiving the greater share. The school of water- 
colours was new, not only to Europe, but to Art, and the 
French were quick to see of what the new method was 

"The Rescue" (or "The Fireman," as the artist himself 
used to call it) was painted in 1855, and is certainly one 
of his finest works. 

Its origin is thus accounted for by his brother: "Early 
one morning, as we were returning from a ball in Porchester 




Terrace, we noticed the bright reflection of fire in the sky. 
Accordingly we told the cabby to drive in that direction, 
and a fire-engine dashing by at that moment increased our 
excitement. The fire was close to Meux's brewery, and 
we were in time to see the whole terrible show. On gazing 
upwards we noticed two firemen plying the hose as they 
stood on a rafter themselves two black silhouettes against 


the mass of heaving flame and I shall never forget the 
shout of horror that rent the air when the roof suddenly 
collapsed, carrying with it the rafter and the two brave 

" We went home much impressed with what we had seen, 
and my brother said, ' Soldiers and sailors have been praised 
on canvas a thousand times. My next picture shall be of the 
fireman.' " 

Mr. Arthur Hughes is also good enough to send me a 
note on the subject. He says: "One day in 1855, the 
moment I saw him [Millais], he began to describe the next 
subject he proposed to paint ' to honour a set of men 
quietly doing a noble work firemen ' ; and he poured out, 
and painted in words of vividness and reality, the scene 
he put on canvas later. I never see it or think of it without 
seeing also the picture of himself glorified with enthusiasm 
as he was describing it." 

It was at a dinner party at the Collins's on January 29th, 
1855, that Millais and Charles Dickens met (I think) for 
the first time. After dinner they talked till a late hour 
on pictures, and particularly on the subject of " The Rescue," 


on which Millais was then engaged. Dickens, it will be 
remembered, objected strongly to Millais' treatment of 
"Christ in the House of His Parents," and had made no 
attempt to disguise his feeling in speaking of the picture 
in Good Words. He refers to this in the following letter 
to Millais : 

From Charles Dickens. 

" Tuesday, Jamiary i$tk, 1855. 

" MY DEAR SIR, I send you the account of the fire 
brigade, which we spoke of last night. 

"If you have in your mind any previous association with 
the pages in which it appears (very likely you have none) 
it may be a rather disagreeable one. In that case I hope 
a word frankly said may make it pleasanter. 

"Objecting very strongly to what I believe to be an 
unworthy use of your great powers, I once expressed the 
objection in this same journal. My opinion on that point 
is not in the least changed, but it has never dashed my 
admiration of your progress in what I suppose are higher 
and better things. In short, you have given me such great 
reasons (in your works) to separate you from uncongenial 
associations, that I wish to give you in return one little 
reason for doing the like by me. And hence this note. 

" Faithfully yours, 


When "The Rescue" was nearly completed, Millais wrote 
and asked Dickens to come and see how the work had 
progressed, and received the following reply : 


''April \oth, 1855. 

" MY DEAR MR. MILLAIS, I am very sorry that I cannot 
have the great pleasure of seeing your picture to-day, as I 
am obliged to go a little way out of town. 

" I asked Wilkie Collins to let you know that there is 
a curious appositeness in some lines in Gay's Trivia. You 
will find them overleaf here, to the number of four. The 
whole passage about a fire and firemen is some four-and- 
twenty lines long. " Very faithfully yours, 





Mr. F. B. Barvvell, a friend of the artist, has kindly 
furnished me with the following notes on the subject of 
" The Rescue " : " This picture was produced in my studio, 
and presents many interesting facts within my own know- 
ledge. After several rough pencil sketches had been made, 
and the composition determined upon, a full-sized cartoon 
was drawn from nature. Baker, a stalwart model, was the 
fireman, and he had to hold three children in the proper 
attitudes and bear their weight as long as he could, whilst 
the children were encouraged and constrained to do their 
part to their utmost. The strain could never be kept up 

for long, and the acrobatic feat had to be repeated over and 
over again for more than one sitting, till Millais had secured 
the action and proportion of the various figures. When 
sufficiently satisfied with the cartoon, it was traced on to 
a perfectly white canvas, and the painting commenced. It 
was now no longer necessary to have the whole group posed 
at one time ; but Baker had to repeat his task more or less 
all through. The effect of the glare was managed by the 
interposition of a sheet of coloured glass of proper hue 
between the group (or part of it at a time) and the window. 
The processes employed in painting were most careful, and 
indeed slow, so that what Millais would have done in his 
later years in a week, took months in those earlier days. It 
was his practice then to paint piecemeal, and finish parts 




of his pictures as he went on. White, mixed with copal,, 
was generally laid on where he intended to work for the 
day, and was painted into and finished whilst wet, the whole 
drying together. The night-dresses of the children were exe- 
cuted in this manner. Strontian yellow was mixed with the 
white, and then rose-madder mingled with copal, floated, 
as it were, over the solid but wet paint a difficult process, 
and so ticklish that as soon as a part was finished the canvas 
had to be laid on its back till the colour had dried sufficiently 
to render the usual position on the easel a safe one. 

" By degrees the work was finished, but not till near mid- 
night of the last day for sending into the Royal Academy. 

S ^f fr^ > 


- ' ^s:-^ 



In those days Millais was generally behindhand with his 
principal picture, and so much so with this one, that he 
greatly curtailed his sleep during the last week ; and on 
the last day but one began to work as soon as it was day- 
light, and worked on all through the night and following 
day till the van arrived for the picture. (Mr. Ruskin defended 
the appearance of haste, which to him seemed to betray 
itself in the execution of this picture, contending that it was 
well suited to the excitement and action of the subject.) 
His friend Charles Collins sat up with him and painted the 
fire-hose, whilst Millais worked at other parts ; and in the 
end a large piece of sheet-iron was placed on the floor, upon 
which a flaming brand was put and worked from, amidst 
suffocating smoke. For the head of the mother, Mrs. 
Nassau Senior, sister of Judge Hughes of Tom Brown 
fame, was good enough to sit. 

2 5 2 



" The methods here described were gradually abandoned 
as Millais progressed in his career." 

On the whole, this picture met with a fair degree of appro- 
bation, but, as Mr. Spielmann says, "its artificiality, and still 
more the chromatic untruth, were savagely attacked. It was 
pointed out that the flames of burning wood emit yellow 
and green rays in abundance. Blazing timber, even in- 
candescent bricks, would not cast such a colour, except in 
a modified tint upon the clouds above ; that a fire such as 
this throws an orange light at most, and that therefore the 
children's night-dresses should have been yellow, with grey 
in the shadows, and the fireman's green cloth uniform yellow- 

grey. The latter part of the contention Ruskin demolished, 
for nearly-black is always quite-black in full juxtaposition with 
violet colour. But he could not meet the argument that, 
to accept as true the ruddy glow, one must agree that it 
is a houseful of Bengal-fire and nitrate of strontian that 
is alight. Seen by artificial light, the picture almost succeeds 
in concealing this error of fact." 

The following interesting note on " The Rescue " is taken 
from the Table Talk of Shirley, as quoted in Good Words of 
October, 1894: "I knew Thomas Spencer Baynes inti- 
mately for nearly forty years. For ten years thereafter 
Baynes was my constant correspondent. From London 
he wrote to me as follows on May 25th, 1855: 'I 
went in for half an hour to the Royal Academy yesterday, 


but as I was almost too tired to stand, and did not stay 
any time, I shall say nothing about it, only this, that the face 
and form of that woman on the stairs of the burning house 
[" The Rescue"] are, if not, as I am disposed to think, beyond 
all, quite equal to the best that Millais has ever done, not 
forgetting the look of unutterable love and life's deep yearn- 
ing in " The Huguenot." And those children ! Ah me! I can 
hardly bear to think of it ; yet the agony is too near, too 
intense, too awful, for present rejoicing even at the deliver- 
ance. And that smile on the young mother's face has. 
struggled up from such depths of speechless pain, and ex- 
presses such a sudden ecstasy of utter gratitude and over- 


mastering joy, that it quite unmans me [to look at It is 
the most intense and pathetic utterance of poor human_love 
I have ever met.' ' 

Millais himself knew this to be his best work. When, 
therefore, he went to the Academy on varnishing-day, 1855, 
and found that it had been deliberately skied, his indignation 
knew no bounds. He told the Hanging Committee to their 
faces what he thought of this insult, and of them as the 
authors of it. But perhaps that scene is best described in 
the words of Dante Rossetti, who, writing to his friend 
W. Allingham, said : " How is Millais' design [' The Fireside 
Story '], which I have not yet seen ? I hope it is only as 
good as his picture at the Royal Academy the most wonder- 
ful thing he has done, except, perhaps, 'The Huguenot." 


He had an awful row with the Hanging Committee, who had 
put it above the level of the eye ; but J. E. Millais yelled for 
several hours, and threatened to resign till they put it right." 

Mention is also made of this incident in the Life of IV. B. 
Scott, to whom Woolner, writing in May, 1855, said : " The 
Academy Committee hung Millais even Millais, their crack 
student in a bad place, he being too attractive now ; but 
that celebrity made such an uproar, the old fellows were glad 
to give him a better place." 

Millais' amusement, when Woolner wrote, was to go about 
and rehearse the scene that took place at the Academy be- 
tween him and the ancient magnates. 

Seddon also wrote on May 3rd, 1855: "The Academy 
opens on Monday. The hangers were of the old school, and 
they have kicked out everything tainted with Pre- Raphael- 
itism. My ' Pyramids ' and a head in chalk of Hunt's, and 
all our friends, are stuck out of sight or rejected. Millais' 
picture was put where it could not be seen. ... He carried 
his point by threatening to take away his picture and resign 
at once unless they rehung him, which they did. He told 
them his mind very freely, and said they were jealous of all 
rising men, and turned out or hung their pictures where they 
could not be seen." 

The latest note on the picture appeared in the Daily News 
of January ist, 1898, in which it is said : '" The Rescue' has 
a vigour and a courage that rivets attention. The immortal 
element (as Ruskin said at the time) is in it to the full. It 
was studied from the very life. Millais and a trusty friend of 
those early days hurried off one night to where a great fire 
was raging, plunged into the thick of the scene, and saw the 
effects which his memory could retain and his hand record. 
What a grappling it is with a difficulty which no other painter 
had so treated before. It is a situation which is dramatic ; 
the rest is Nature. In the pose of the mother, as she reaches 
out those long arms of hers, straight and rigid and parallel, 
there is an intensity of expression that recalls his Pre- 
Raphaelite days. The figure of the child escaping towards 
her from the fireman's grasp shows what mastery of his art 
he had gained in the interval." 

The secret of this "mastery" is that Millais always went 
to life and Nature for his inspiration. Touching this par- 
ticular picture, I heard him say that before he commenced 
the work he went to several big fires in London to study the 

"ST. AGNES." i3s4 

i8 55 ] "THE FIRESIDE STORY' 257 

true light effects. The captain of the fire brigade was a 
friend of his, and one evening, when Millais and Mike Halli- 
day were dining with him, he said, after several alarms had 
been communicated, '' Now, Millais, if you want to see a 
first-class blaze, come along." Rushing downstairs, the 
guests were speedily habited in firemen's overalls and 
helmets, and, jumping into a cab, were soon on the scene 
of action. 

Years afterwards Millais was dining one night with Captain 
Shaw, the then chief of the brigade, and renewed his ex- 
perience at a big fire ; but this time he travelled on one of 
the engines a position which he found much less to his taste 
than the inside of a cab. 

"The Fireside Story," to which Rossetti alludes, was 
intended to illustrate the following stanza of " Frost in the 


Highlands," in the second series of Day and Night Songs, 
by William Allingham : 

" At home are we by the merry fire, 
Ranged in a ring to our heart's desire. 
And who is to tell some wondrous tale, 
Almost to turn the warm cheeks pale, 
Set chin on hands, make grave eyes stare, 
Draw slowly nearer each stool and chair ? " 

Of this drawing the Atlienceum of August i8th, 1855, 
wrote: '"The Fireside Story,' by the last-named gentleman 
[Millais], is a proof that he can be in earnest without being 
absurd, and reproduce Nature without administering on the 
occasion a dose of ugliness as a tonic" a piece of criticism 
which called forth the following from D. G. Rossetti in one 

r ^^ 

of his letters to W. Allingham : "That is a stupid enough 
notice in the Athenaum in all conscience. I wonder who did 
it? Some fearful ass evidently, from the way he speaks of 
Millais as well as of you." 

William Allingham also refers to this drawing in a letter to 
Millais of November loth, 1855, concluding with the follow- 
ing words: "As I am not good at praising people to their 
faces, and as it is a comfort, too, to express something of 
what one feels, pray let me assure you here of the deep 
respect I have for your powers. The originality and truth- 
fulness of your genius fill me with delight and wonder. I 
wish you would master the art of etching, and make public 
half a dozen designs now and again. Surely one picture in 
a year, shown in London and then shut up, is not result 
i. 17 

2 5 8 



enough for such a mine of invention and miraculous power 
of reproduction as you possess. This is the age of printing 
and a countless public, and the pictorial artist may and ought 
to aim at exercising a wider immediate influence. Be our 
better Hogarth. Don't leave us remote and wretched to the 
Illustrated London News and the Art Journal'''* 

Acting on this advice, Millais set to work and studied 

" REJECTED." 1853 

etching. By my mother's account-book I see he did etchings 
on copper, though what has become of them I do not know. 

The year after its exhibition in London "The Rescue" 
was sent to the Liverpool Academy, where it is said to have 
lost the annual prize by a single vote. Thackeray, who was 
now a great admirer of Millais' works, was quite fascinated 
with it, and it was due to his recommendation that the picture 
passed into the hands of Mr. Arden. Some years afterwards, 

* The wood-cutting of this period was so bad that even the best examples which 
appeared in these journals were far from satisfactory. 


when it was put up for auction at the Arden sale, at Christie's 
rooms, it was noticed that the canvas was covered with spots, 
due to its having been kept in an uncongenial temperature. 
The artist saw this, and offered to put things right ; but, 
strange to say, the executors declined the offer, and it was 
sold, spots and all. The spots remained on the canvas for 
many years, and after seeing the picture in the Glasgow 
Exhibition in 1887, I spoke to my father about it, and, with 
the consent of the owners, he had it back in his studio and 
successfully removed the blemish. 

It was in this year (1855) that Leighton (afterwards 
an intimate friend of Millais) made his first appearance in 
the Academy with an important work a big picture of 
" Cimabue," which was bought by her Majesty the Queen. 
Millais referred to him in the following words at the 
Academy banquet on May 6th, 1895 : " 1 tne early part of 
the evening I spoke of my first meeting with Fred. Leighton. 
Let me tell you where and from whom I first heard of him. 
It was in the smoking-room of the old Garrick Club, and the 
man who first mentioned the name to me was William Make- 
peace Thackeray. He had just returned from travelling 
abroad, and, amongst other places, had visited Italy. When 
he saw me enter the room he came straight up to me, and 
addressed me in these memorable words : ' Millais, my boy, 
you must look to your laurels. I have met a wonderfully 
gifted young artist in Rome, about your own age, who some 
day will be the President of the Royal Academy before you/ 
How that prophecy has come to pass is now an old, old story. 
We are, as we may well be, proud of our dear President, 
our admirable Leighton painter, sculptor, orator, linguist, 
musician, soldier, and, above all, a dear good fellow. That 
he may long continue to be our chief is not only the fervent 
prayer of the Academy ; it is, unless I am much mistaken, 
the sincere and hearty wish of every member of the pro- 

His first meeting with the future President is also a matter 
of some interest. Speaking of this, he said : " The first 
time I met Frederick Leighton was on the war-path. It 
was at a meeting of four or five of the original Artist 
Volunteers, held in my studio in Langham Place, and, if 
my memory serves me, it was to consider the advisability of 
adopting the grey cloth which the corps now wears." 

Then was cemented a life-long friendship between the 


President of the day and the man who eventually succeeded 
him in his office. 

That the advent of Leighton was received with joy by 
the Royal Academicians will be seen by the following passage 
in one of D. G. Rossetti's letters in 1855: "There is a 
big picture of ' Cimabue/ one of the works in procession 
by a new man, living abroad, named Leighton a huge 
thing, which the Queen has bought, and which everyone 
talks of. The Royal Academicians have been gasping 
for years for someone to back against Hunt and Millais, 
and here they have him a fact which makes some people 
do the picture injustice in return." 



Millais' affection for Leech His first top-boots "Mr. Tom Noddy" Millais 
introduces "Mr. Briggs" to the delight of salmon fishing The Duke of 
Athol and Leech Letters from Leech The ghost of Cowdray Hall Death 
of Leech His funeral The pension for Leech's family Letter from Charles 
Dickens Thackeray The littleness of earthly fame Wilkie Collins True 
origin of The Woman in White Anthony Trollope Letters from him. 

TEECH, Thackeray, Wilkie Collins, and Anthony 
J ' Trollope : what memories these names conjure up ! 
They were amongst the oldest and most intimate friends of 
Millais, and were so closely associated with him at various 
periods of his life that no biography of any of them would 
be complete without some record of the others. It may be 
interesting, then, to those who know them only by their 
works to recall here some of the many personal qualities 
that endeared them to all who enjoyed the privilege of their 

And first of Leech, the famous caricaturist of Punch. 
Here was a man of whom, if of anybody, one might say, 
" I shall not look upon his like again." " The truest gentle- 
man I ever met," was what was said of him by those who 
knew him best by such judges of men as Thackeray, Trollope, 
Frith, Du Maurier, Dean Hole, and others and no words 
could better convey the sentiments of Millais himself. To 
speak of him alter his death was always more or less painful 
to my father, though now and then, when sport was upper- 
most in his mind, he would talk enthusiastically of the happy 
days when they shot or rode together or rollicked about 
town as gay young bachelors bent on all the amusement 
they could find. 

Hear what Du Maurier says of him in Harper s Maga- 
zine: " He was the most sympathetic and attractive person 
I ever met ; not funny at all in conversation, or ever wishing 




to be, except now or then for a capital story, which he told 
to perfection. 

" The keynote of his character, socially, seemed to be 
self-effacement, high-bred courtesy, never-failing considera- 
tion for others. He was the most charming companion 
conceivable, having intimately known so many important 
and celebrated people, and liking to speak of them ; but 

one would never have guessed from 
anything he ever looked or said 
that he had made a whole nation, 
male and female, gentle and simple, 
old and young, laugh as it had 
never laughed before or since, for 
a quarter of a century. 

"He was tall, thin, and graceful, 
extremely handsome, of the higher 
Irish type, with dark hair and 
whiskers and complexion, and very 
light greyish - blue eyes ; but the 
expression of his face was habitually 
sad, even when he smiled. In 
dress, bearing, manner, and aspect 
he was the very type of the well- 
bred English gentleman and man 
of the world and good society. . . . 
Thackeray and Sir John Millais 
not bad judges, and men w r ith 
many friends have both said that 
they personally loved John Leech 
better than any man they ever 

This, I think, fairly sums up the 
character of the man whose name, 
as will presently be seen, figures so 
often and so prominently in my father's correspondence. It 
was in 1851 that they first met, and one of the first results 
of the intimacy that then sprang up between them was Millais' 
conversion to his friend's view of fox-hunting as one of the 
finest sports in the world both for man and beast. Hitherto 
he had insisted that, unlike shooting or fishing, at both of 
which he was already an expert, hunting was "a barbarous 
and uncivilised sport," and as such he would have nothing 
to do with it. But Leech would not listen to this. As the 

JOHN LEECH. Circ. 1856 

From the water-colour in the National Portrait Gallery 


old ostler in Punch remarked, " The 'orses like it, the 'ounds 
like it, the men like it, and even the fox likes it"; and as 
to health, urged Leech, it was only at the tail of the hounds 
that an artist could do justice to himself after the enervating 
influence of the studio. 

That was enough. If only for the sake of health Millais 
would hunt ; and the following season saw him at the cover- 
side, booted and spurred, and bent on going with the best if 
only his horse would let him. 

With a view to this, Leech had introduced him to a boot- 
maker in Oxford Street for his first " tops " ; and according 
to his own account (for he never hesitated to tell a tale 
against himself), the interview was not lacking in amuse- 
ment. Being but a stripling of twenty-one or thereabouts, his 
calves were in the embryo state so mortifying to young 
manhood. He was delighted therefore when, on measuring 
him, the shopman said with an air of admiration, "Ah, sir, 
what a fine leg for a boot ! " But the conclusion of the 
sentence was not quite so satisfactory " Same size all the 
way up." Leech was so amused with this that he immor- 
talised the scene in P^mck, and on more than one occasion 
afterwards my father sat as a model for some of his clever 
drawings in that periodical. From this time, indeed, till 
the day of his death John Leech was one of his closest 
friends. They hunted together in the shires, shot, fished, 
and stalked together ; and all those amusing sketches in. 
Punch, to which Leech owed his fame all the deer-stalking, 
grouse-shooting, and salmon-fishing adventures depicted there 
as incidents in the life of " Mr. Briggs "- were but burlesque 
representations of Leech's own experience as a tyro on his 
first visit to Scotland, principally as my father's guest. 

By the end of the first hunting season Millais had acquired 
a firm seat on horseback, and was known as a bold rider 
across country ; and except when in later years Scotland 
claimed his presence, he followed the hounds with ardour 
year by year, visiting alternately Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, 
and Leicester, where he and Leech and Mike Halliday kept 
their hunters hired by them for the season. A clever little 
sketch of Leech's is given here, showing Millais putting on 
the steam to clear a fence. 

Leech, though not quite so keen a ricler, was a far better 
horseman than his modesty would ever allow him to acknow- 
ledge ; but little Mike, though plucky enough, was always 



coming to grief, to the great amusement of Leech, who duly 
chronicled his mishaps in Punch, under the title of " The 
Adventures of Mr. Tom Noddy." 

It was at Stobhall, near Perth, in 1855, that Millais intro- 
duced his friend Leech to the wild delights of salmon-fishing, 
and as the friend of "Mr. Briggs" he, too, appears in Punch. 
Leech was charmed with the prospective sport, but as a 

By John Leech 

novice in the art of casting he tried in vain to effect a 
capture. The fish were there, plenty of them, and flies of 
the most seductive character floated before their eyes ; but 
either the business-end of these flies was too apparent, or 
their movements were suspicious, or But who shall say 

by what process of reasoning a fish learns to distinguish 
between friend and foe ? Anyhow, they could not be per- 
suaded to rise. 

Harling was then resorted to. For some days Leech sat 
patiently in a boat, hoping that some feeble-minded fish 
would be tempted to come and hook itself as the fly dangled 



carelessly from his rod, and at last he had his reward. Just 
below the dyke at Stanley the line suddenly straightened ; 
Leech snatched up the rod, and away went a clean-run 
25-pounder with the hook in his gills! Then the struggle 
began, and great excitement for the fisherman, as this bit 
of Stanley water is a rough place, full of rushing streams 
and deep holes, in which are sharp, shelving rocks, from 
which the quarry must 

be got away at once, or -. 3kw #jc ~n.<Lus1 ' ' ?' v "^ 
he would certainly cut 
the line. 

After allowing him 
one good run, Leech 
scrambled out amongst 
the rocks and stones of 
the Stobhall shore, and 
the fish making straight 
down stream, dragged 
him helter-skelter over 
boulders .and through 
bushes, till he was nearly 
at his last gasp. Then, 
luckily for him, the 
salmon retreated into 
*' The Devil's Hole," 
and sulked there for 
half an hour. The angler 
then recovered breath, 
and ultimately, at the 
bottom of Stanley water, 
my father gaffed the 
fish, to the great delight 
of "Mr. Briggs,"as sub- 
sequently portrayed in 

Another anecdote of Leech must be related here in con- 
nection with this visit of his to Perth. During the previous 
year he made the acquaintance of the Duke of Athol in a 
way he did not like. Walking in the hills near Blair, he 
unfortunately got into the forest when a deer-drive was 
going on, and to his dismay found himself face to face with 
the duke. Now Leech was a very nervous man, and the 
duke, who in his own territory was looked upon as a king, 

Sketch by John Leech. 1855 


waxed exceeding wroth at the sight of this trespasser, and 
without more ado gave him what they call in Yorkshire 
" a bit of his mind," interlarding his speech with such terrible 
terms as " Rhoderic Dhu " and "Vile Sassenach." Leech, 
needless to say, beat a retreat, only too glad to escape with 
a whole skin ; but he had his revenge a few months later 
when the whole world was laughing at his clever skit on the 
situation in the pages of Punch. 

On a second visit in 1856, he was surprised by an in- 
vitation to come with my father to Blair and take part in 
the big deer-drives then going on ; but with that sketch 
in his mind, and fearing that the duke might have recognised 
it as connected with himself, he could not be prevailed upon 
to go until my father dragged him by main force into the 
coach. The duke had seen it, and knew what it meant, and 
being very good-natured, had enjoyed the joke immensely ; 
and now he went out of his way to put Leech at his ease 
and show him the best sport he could. 

Leech had now two opportunities for caricaturing himself, 
and was not slow in availing himself of them. After a 
drive in which he failed to kill, he was so overcome by the 
heat of the day that he fell asleep in his shelter just as a 
splendid herd of stags was passing by. That is another 
incident in the life of " Mr. Briggs " ; and again another was 
found in a failure to kill a noble hart which had been stalked 
all day. 

Though the duke was in no way annoyed by Leech's skit, 
he could not refrain from having a little joke at his expense. 
The two were in a " butt " together, waiting for the deer, 
when, as a humorous reminder of their first meeting, the 
duke suddenly produced a pistol, and, presenting it at 
Leech's head, exclaimed in theatrical tones, " Now I am 
' Rhoderic Dhu ' on my native heath, and you, vile Sas- 
senach, are in my power!" The suddenness of the attack 
so upset poor Leech's nerves that he let the deer go by 
without a shot. Eventually, however, he killed two stags 
by stalking, the recollection of which was a source of happi- 
ness to him for years afterwards. 

In this same year another shock brought another picture 
from the hand of the famous caricaturist. My father took 
him to shoot with his friend, James Condy, at Rohallion, 
and on their way to the house led him through a corner of 
the home park, in which herds of bison, recently brought 


from Western America by Sir William Stuart, were con- 
fined. The furious aspect of the animals, and its effect 
upon the untrained nerves of the novice, shortly afterwards 
found expression in print in the usual quarter. 

Leech used to say he could never quite understand a 
Scotchman. They were a curious, uncongenial people, with 
queer ways and customs very perplexing to a stranger, who, 
in his ignorance, might readily give offence where he least 
intended to do so. An instance of this occurred one day 
when he and Millais by chance came across a man in a red 
shirt, who was cutting down a tree in a way that suggested 
at least a passing acquaintance with the whiskey bottle. 
Recognising him as a local laird whom they had met before, 
Leech shyly addressed him as "Mr. McR ." "Who 
the devil are you calling Mr. McR ? I am THE 
McR ," roared the fiery Scot, upon which Leech apolo- 
gised and made off at once. 

And here may be fitly introduced, I think, two character- 
istic letters from Leech, with the sketches enclosed. 

From John Leech. 


"June I4///, 1855. 

" MY DEAR MILLAIS, I return the insurance paper filled 
up, to the best of my belief, properly though -perhaps with 
regard to the question, ' Is there any peculiarity in his con- 
figuration ? ' I ought to have been more explicit. However, 
when you go before the ' Board ' they will be able to judge 
of your tendency to corpulence and what may be called your 
general ' stumpy ' (if I may use a vulgar but expressive 
word) appearance. I might, too, have attended to your 
strikingly socratic profile ; but the answer I have returned 
will, I daresay, answer the purpose. 

" I came to town the very day you left for the North, 
and called at your chambers, missing you by a few hours 
only. How much I should have liked to give you a 
shake of the hand, and to wish viva voce health and 
happiness to you ! I do most cordially wish you may have 
both for many years. . . . Last week I went out pike- 
fishing at a most beautiful place called Fillgate, with one 
Jolliffe, of whom you have, I think, heard me speak. He 


was in the 4th Light Dragoons and was in the ever-memor- 
able Balaclava Charge. He gave me a vivid description 
of the dreadful business. Altogether I have rarely had a 
more pleasant day. We behaved, I am afraid, in a most 
unsportsmanlike manner, for he was anxious to thin the pond 
of fish, and determined to set trimmers. About four-and- 
twenty of these devices were put in all over the water, and 
it was exciting enough to paddle after them as the bait on 
each was carried off by Mr. Jack. You would have enjoyed 
it immensely, only you would have jumped out of the boat. 
And we caught a 'bold biting Perch,' sir! such a one as 
I have only seen stuffed in the fishing-tackle shops, and 
which I always believed to be manufactured by the carpenter 
or umbrella maker. He weighed three pounds, and not 
fisherman's weight. Let me hear from you sometimes. 
This, I know, is asking a good deal under the circumstances, 
for cannot your time be much more agreeably employed than 
in writing to Yours always, my dear fellow, 


From, the same. 


" October 2yd, 1855. 

" MY DEAR MILLAIS, I said I would write to you from 
Folkestone, and I didn't write to you from Folkestone and 
will you forgive me ? My conscience has been pricking me 
so much for my neglect that I can bear it no longer, and 
although I have nothing of much interest to communicate, 
' I send you these few lines, hoping they will find you 
well, as they leave me at present.' Luard wrote to me the 
other day from his ship, on his way to the Crimea. I trust 
nothing will happen to the good little fellow. I shall miss 
his cheery, pert face this winter. Am I to miss you too, 
or are you coming south ? Why not ? Let us have some 
fine, healthful exercise with old P ,* always very careful, 
of course Old Gentleman style. 

"You should come to town, if only to see a collection of 
photographs taken in the Crimea. They are surprisingly 
good ; I don't think anything ever affected me more. You 

* Millais and Leech both studied "the noble art" under this gentleman. 


hardly miss the colour, the truth in other respects is so 

"When I was in Paris I saw your pictures. Believe me, 
out of some thousands of pictures, large, very large, small, 
and very small, they stood out, as your works always do, 




Sketched from life by John Leech at the opening of the Great Exhibition, May ist, 1851 
and enclosed in a letter to Millais 

most conspicuously good. Apropos of pictures, I want to 
ask you a question. I was with Mowbray Morris some time 
since, and he told me that he and his colleagues of the T^inies 
wished very much to have a portrait painted of one of their 
most valued contributors and friends to be hung up in their 
'Sanctum.' They wish, of course, that it should be done by 
the best man. Both Morris and myself agreed that there 


was only one best man, and that 'party' J. Everett What 's- 
his-name, A.R.A. Well, he asked me whether you would do 
it, and I said I would ask you. What do you say? It 
would, I think, be considered by them quite as much a 
kindness on your part as a matter of business, although the 
business part of it would be according to your own views, 
supposing it came to anything. . . . 

" The Newcomes is a wonderful book, particularly the latter 
part of it the old colonel's ' Adsum ' ! What genuine 
pathos ! I dined with Thackeray the day before he started 
for America. I don't think he liked leaving England. 
W f ould that he were back working away at another book. 
You will be glad to hear that our little ones are thriving 
famously. Your little friend runs about, and begins to talk. 
She already has a strong inclination to draw, which develops 
itself in the making of what she calls dow-dows (dogs) over 
every sketch of mine that comes in her way ; and, I am sorry 
to add, remonstrance is of no avail, for on the slightest 
attempt to interfere with any project she has, she dashes 
herself on the ground and screams awfully. This must be 
altered ; Paterfamilias must be stern. The boy begins " to 
take notice " ; that is, he screws his mouth up to all sorts of 
ridiculous shapes, and, squinting, makes a little grunt, which 
is supposed to be indicative of strong filial attachment. 

" Always yours, 


And now we come to a little ghost story that my father 
used to tell, and, as related by W r illiam Millais, runs thus : 
41 A very singular thing happened to my brother and John 
Leech when they were on a fishing tour, walking with knap- 
sacks and staying at wayside inns. Happening to be passing 
near Cowdray Hall, they met the squire, whom they knew 
well, and he pressed them to return with him to dine and 
sleep, and being some distance from their next halting-place, 
and tired, they accepted the kind invitation. 

"There was a terrible ghost story attached to the old 
house, and after dinner everyone seemed possessed with the 
determination to relate his or her experience of these weird 
goblins. It turned out that the hall was so full of visitors 
that only the quarters occupied by the local ghost were avail- 
able, and they were situated in an unused wing of the hall. 



These were offered to the two fishermen, who of course 
laughed and scoffed at the idea of the ghost. 

" The rooms were covered with fine old tapestry and kept 
in beautiful order, with grand old-fashioned beds in them. 
When they retired to rest they were looked upon by the 
assembled company as heroes of the first magnitude. They 
were tired, however, and soon dropped into the arms of 

" In the middle of the night my brother jumped out of 
bed in a cold shiver, and trembling in every limb. He told 

r^**6 ^/^ -':._._ 

-**-*-0&- v ;fV: 

Part of a letter from Leech to Millais, who has expressed his intention to cultivate a moustache. 1856 

me that he felt as if he had been violently shaken by an 
invisible giant. They had been told that the ghost served 
its victims in such a manner. My brother went off to see 
Leech, whom he found sitting in the corridor, when he de- 
clared that nothing would induce him to go into his room 
again ; and thus they passed the night in the corridor. 

" Everyone was out cub-hunting when they reached the 
breakfast-table, and it was only late in the day that some of 
the visitors began to show themselves, and of course they 
were asked how they had slept. They laughed over the 
matter, and confessed that they had not seen the ghost, 
i. 18 


Later in the afternoon the squire came in in great excitement, 
holding in his hand the local evening paper, first edition, and 
said that there had been a severe earthquake in the night, 
that a village quite near had suffered serious damage, and 
that it was a most extraordinary tiling that no one in the 

/ o 

house had felt it. And then the fishermen told him how they 
had passed the night. The earthquake was the ghost's under- 
study on this occasion, and played his part admirably." 

As Leech advanced in years his melancholy and sensitive- 
ness, due in a great measure to overwork, increased. He 
became so nervous that the very slightest noise disturbed 
him ; and living in London, as he did, he could hardly escape 
from barrel-organs, bands, whistling boys, and shrieking 
milkmen. At last that dread disease "angina pectoris " came 
upon him, and one evening, when Millais was painting, a 
terrified domestic, whom he at once recognised as Leech's 
housemaid, rushed in, saying that her master had another 
bad attack, and was crying aloud, " Millais! Millais!" The 
next moment Millais was off, and running through the streets 
of Kensington he mounted the stairs of his old friend's 
room, and found him lying across the bed, quite still and 
warm, but to all appearance dead, the belief in the house 
being that he expired at the moment of his friend's arrival. 

A few days later he was laid to rest, and, says Du 
Maurier,* '' I was invited by Messrs. Bradbury and Evans, 
the publishers of Punch, to the funeral, which took place 
at Kensal Green. It was the most touching sight imaginable. 
The grave was near Thackeray's, who had died the year before. 
There were crowds of people, Charles Dickens among them. 
Canon Hole, a great friend of Leech's, and who has written 
most affectionately about him, read the service ; and when 
the coffin was lowered into the grave, John Millais burst 
into tears and loud sobs, setting an example that was followed 
all round. We all forgot our manhood, and cried like women! 
I can recall no funeral in my time where simple grief and 
affection have been so openly and spontaneously displayed 
by so many strangers as well as friends not even in France, 
where people are more demonstrative than here. No burial 
in Westminster Abbey that I have ever seen ever gave such 
an expression of universal honour, love, and regret. ' \Vhom 
the gods love die young.' He was only forty-six." 

Finding then that little or no provision was left for his 

* Harper's Magazine, February, 1896. 


family, my father took up the case, and with the aid of a few 
friends (notably " Dicky " Doyle), organised an exhibition 
of Leech's drawings, which brought in a considerable sum, 
but not sufficient to provide for the children's education. A 
pension from the Civil List was then thought of; but it was 
no easy matter to obtain this, as at that time (1864) these 
pensions were limited almost exclusively to the families of 
men whose lives were devoted to literary w r ork alone. An 
attempt, however, must be made ; and on an appeal, kindly 
supported by the Prince and Princess of Wales, Lord 
Palmerston, Lord Shaftesbury, and other influential admirers 
of Leech's works, a pension of ^"50 a year was granted 
to each of the children. 

Numerous letters on this subject from His Royal Highness 
and other notabilities lie before me ; but perhaps the most 
interesting is that 

From Charles Dickens. 


" Sunday, December 1 8/^, 1 864. 

" MY DEAR MILLAIS, There are certain personal private 
circumstances which would render my writing to Lord 
Palmerston, separately and from myself alone, in the matter 
of the pension, a proceeding in more than questionable 
taste. Besides which I feel perfectly certain that a re- 
minder from me would not help the powerful case. I should 
have been glad to sign the memorial, but I have not the 
least doubt that the letter from myself singly is best avoided. 
If I had any, I would disregard the other considerations and 
send it ; but I have none, and I am quite convinced that I am 

" You are a generous and true friend to Mrs. Leech. 
" Faithfully yours ever, 


Mrs. Leech soon followed her husband. Leech's only 
son was drowned many years ago in Australian waters, and 
his daughter Ada, who married a clergyman, has also joined 
the great majority. 

The following letter to her is characteristic of the writer, 
who was always keenly alive to the claims of friendship. 


To Miss Ada Leech. 

"January loth, 1877. 

" DEAR ADA, I am much grieved to hear of the death 
of your good uncle, and that you should be left without 
his counsel and advice. 

" I shall be very happy at all times to help you to the best 
of my ability, and hope you will send me the name and 
address of his solicitor, as we were joint trustees in the 
Government's grant settled on you, and I shall have to now act 
until some other gentleman is appointed with me. Moreover, 
any confidence you may place in me, from my affection 
towards your father, I will do my best to use for your benefit. 
I am sure your aunt, Mrs. Hayward, will be most kind to 
you, but I am aware there are some positions in which a 
man alone can act on your behalf. . . . You have, indeed, 
been unfortunate, but at your age you may look for a happy 
career yet. Just at this moment we are moving into our 
new house, and in mourning ourselves, otherwise I would 
have you with us, if you would come. Tell Mrs. Hayward 
how truly I sympathise with her, and believe me always 

" Yours truly, 


As to Thackeray, my father and mother always regarded 
him as one of the most delightful characters they ever met. 
Though in dealing with the infirmities of human nature his 
works now and then show traces of cynicism, the man him- 
self was no cynic -was rather, indeed, to those who knew 
him best, a most sympathetic friend, and tender-hearted 
almost to a fault. For some years he entertained and 
brought up as one of his family the daughter of a deceased 
friend ; and so grieved was he at the thought of parting 
from her that on her wedding-day he came for consolation 
to my father's studio, and spent most of the afternoon in 
tears. They met so frequently he and Millais that but 
little correspondence of any interest appears to have passed 
between them. The genial nature of the man, however, 
peeps out in the following reply to my father's invitation 
to stay with him at Annat Lodge, near Perth, when on his 
lecturing tour in 1857. 


From Thackeray. 


" March ^rd. 

" MY DEAR MILLAIS, I got the sad news at Edinburgh 
yesterday that there is to be no lecture at Perth, my 
manager not having been able to make arrangements there. 
So I shall lose the pleasure I had promised myself of seeing 
you and Mrs. Millais, and the pictures on the easel, and the 
little miniature Millais by Millais, which I hope and am 
sure is a charming little work by that painter. I am off 
in a minute to Edinburgh for Kirkaldy, and have only time 
to say that I am 

" Very truly yours always, 


Of Thackeray, Millais and Carlyle, William Millais tells 
an interesting story illustrative of the littleness of earthly 
fame, however highly we may regard it. He says : " I was 
sitting with my brother in the Cromwell Place studio when 
Thackeray suddenly came in all aglow with enthusiasm at 
my brother's fame. Every window in every shop that had 
the least pretension to Art-display, he said, was full of the 
engravings of his popular works. On his way he had seen 
innumerable ' Orders of Release,' ' Black Brunswickers,' and 
' Huguenots' ; in fact, he had no hesitation in affirming that 
John Millais was the most famous man of the day. He 
then alluded to his own miserable failure at first, and told 
us how he had taken some of his works, which have since 
been acknowledged to be the finest specimens of English 
literature, to the leading publishers, and how they had one 
and all sneeringly hinted that no one would read his works 
after Dickens. 

" My brother told him that, curiously enough, on the day 
before, an incident had occurred that proved that his fame, 
even amongst his own profession, was not all that Thackeray 
had painted it. He had met, near Shepherd's Bush, an old 
fellow-student of the Royal Academy (Mr. Frith calls him 
4 Potherd '), who had taken the second prize to his first, 
at the age of twelve. The man was full-grown then, and 
had strongly-marked features ; moreover, he wore the same 
old military cloak, with lion clasp, that he used to wear in 


the old days, so my brother had no difficulty in recognising 
him ; and, addressing him at once, he said, ' Well, P , 
and what are you doing-? and how are you? It is a long 
time since we met.' He said he was grubbing away at 
teaching 'slow work and worse pay 'or something to that 
effect. ' But who are you, pray?' On being told the name, 
he replied, 'What! little Johnny Millais ! And now may 
I ask what you have done all this time? Have you pursued 
the Arts ? ' 

" Thackeray immediately put this down to satire, but it was 
not, as we found out afterwards. The simple fellow either 
could not believe that the famous man was his old school- 
fellow, or was completely ignorant of his success. 

" Before this, Thackeray told an amusing story of Carlyle, 
how that he had spent a day in the reading-room of the 
British Museum and had given a great deal of trouble to 
one of the officials, sending him up and down ladders in 
search -of books to satisfy his literary tastes, and how, upon 
leaving the room, he had gone up to the man and told him 
that it might be some satisfaction to him to know that he 
had obliged Thomas Carlyle, and that the official had 
answered him, w r ith a bland smile and the usual washing 
of hands in the air, that the gentleman had the advantage 
of him, but that probably they might have met at some 
mutual friend's house. He had never heard of Thomas 

Of Wilkie Collins there is little to be said in connection 
with the subject of the present work, though both he and 
his brother Charles were for many years amongst Millais' 
most intimate friends, and no one more admired his brilliant 
talent as a novelist. Since his famous novel, The ]\ r oiuan 
in White, appeared, many have been the tales set on foot 
to account for its origin, but for the most part quite inaccurate. 
The real facts, so far as I am at liberty to disclose them, were 
these : 

One night in the fifties Millais was returning home to 
Gower Street from one of the many parties held under 
Mrs. Collins' hospitable roof in Hanover Terrace, and, in 
accordance with the usual practice of the two brothers, 
Wilkie and Charles, they accompanied him on his homeward 
walk through the dimly-lit, and in those days semi-rural, 
roads and lanes of North London. 

It was a beautiful moonlight night in the summer time, 

National Portrait Gallery. Circ. 1855 


and as the three friends walked along chatting gaily together, 
they were suddenly arrested by a piercing scream coming 
from the garden of a villa close at hand. It was evidently 
the cry of a woman in distress ; and while pausing to con- 
sider what they should do, the iron gate leading to the 
garden was dashed open, and from it came the figure of a 
young and very beautiful woman dressed in flowing white 
robes that shone in the moonlight. She seemed to float 
rather than to run in their direction, and, on coming up to 
the three young men, she paused for a moment in an attitude 
of supplication and terror. Then, seeming to recollect her- 
self, she suddenly moved on and vanished in the shadows 
cast upon the road. 

"What a lovely woman!" was all Millais could say. 
" I must see who she is and what's the matter," said Wilkie 
Collins as, without another word, he dashed off after her. 
His two companions waited in vain for his return, and next 
day, when they met again, he seemed indisposed to talk 
of his adventure. They gathered from him, however, that 
he had come up with the lovely fugitive and had heard from 
her own lips the history of her life and the cause of her 
sudden flight. She was a young lady of good birth and 
position, who had accidentally fallen into the hands of a man 
living in a villa in Regent's Park. There for many months 
he kept her prisoner under threats and mesmeric influence 
of so alarming a character that she dared not attempt to 
escape, until, in sheer desperation, she fled from the brute, 
who, with a poker in his hand, threatened to dash her brains 
out. Her subsequent history, interesting as it is, is not for 
these pages. 

Wilkie Collins, of whom there is an excellent likeness by 
Millais in the National Portrait Gallery, died in 1870. His 
last letter to my father ran thus : 

From Wilkie Collins. 


"April 6th, 1863. 

" MY DEAR JACK, I have been miserably ill with rheu- 
matic gout ever since that pleasant dinner at your house, and 
I am only now getting strong enough to leave England in a 
few days and try the German baths. . . . 


" I hear great things of a certain picture of yours [' The 
Eve of St. Agnes '], but there is no chance of my getting to 
see it. If I am alive, I hope to be back in June and see it 
at the Academy. All the little strength I have got is now 
wanted for preparations for the start. 

"Poor dear Egg!* No such heavy distress as that has 
tried me for many and many a year past. And I know you 
must have felt it too. Pray give my kindest remembrances 

to Mrs. Millais, and believe me, 

" Ever yours, 


Anthony Trollope, the famous novelist, is the last of 
Millais' amis du cceur whom I need mention here. They 
met for the first time at a dinner given by Mr. George Smith 
to the contributors to the Cornhill Magazine and the Pall 
Mall Gazette, both of which papers owed their birth to Mr. 
Smith ; and the friendship there formed ended only with 
Trollope's death in 1882. The lovable character of the man 
is seen in the autobiography published after his death, in 
which also is a most touching" record of his affection for 


Millais. He writes : 

" It was at that table [Mr. George Smith's] and on that 
day that I first saw Thackeray, [Sir] Charles Taylor than 
whom in later life I have loved no man better Robert Bell, 
G. H. Lewes, and John Everett Millais. With all these 
men 1 afterwards lived on affectionate terms. But I will 
here speak specially of the last, because from that time he 
was joined with me in so much of the work that I did. 

"Mr. Millais was engaged to illustrate ' Framley Parson- 
age,' but this was not the first work he did for the magazine. 
In the second number there is a picture of his, accompanying 
Monckton Milnes' ' Unspoken Dialogue.' The first drawing 
he did for ' Framley Parsonage ' did not appear till after the 
dinner of which I have spoken, and I do not think that I 
knew at the time that he was engaged on my novel. \Yhen 
I did know it, it made me very proud. He afterwards illus- 
trated ' Orley Farm,' 'The Small House at Allington,' 
'Rachel Ray,' and ' Phineas Finn.' Altogether he drew 
from my tales eighty-seven drawings, and I do not think 
that more conscientious work was ever done by man. 

* Augustus Egg, R.A., a brilliant artist and a great friend of Millais and Collins, 
died in this year. 


Writers of novels know well, and so ought readers of novels 
to have learned, that there are two modes of illustrating, 
either of which may be adopted equally by a bad and by 
a good artist. To which class Mr. Millais belongs I need 
not say, but, as a good artist, it was open to him simply to 
make a pretty picture, or to study the work of the author 
from whose writing he was bound to take his subject. I 
have too often found that the former alternative has been 
thought to be the better, as it certainly is the easier, method. 
An artist will frequently dislike to subordinate his ideas to 
those of an author, and will sometimes be too idle to find out 
what those ideas are. But this artist was neither proud nor 
idle. In every figure that he drew it was his object to 
promote the views of the writer whose work he had under- 
taken to illustrate, and he never spared himself any pains 
in studying the work so as to enable him to do so. I have 
carried on some of those characters from book to book, and 
have had my own ideas impressed indelibly on my memory 
by the excellence of his delineations. Those illustrations 
were commenced fifteen years ago, and from that time up 
to this day my affection for the man has increased. To see 
him has always been a pleasure. His voice has been a sweet 
sound in my ears. Behind his back I have never heard him 
praised without joining the eulogist ; I have never heard 
a word spoken against him without opposing the censurer. 
These words, should he ever see them, will come to him 
from the grave, and will tell him of my regard as one living 
man never tells another." 

The following letters also serve to illustrate Trollope's 
appreciation of Millais' drawings, and the profound contempt 
he entertained for anything in the shape of cant : 

Front Anthony Trollopc. 


"June 4//z, 1863. 

" MY DEAR MILLAIS, Ten thousand thanks to you, and 
twenty to your wife, as touching Ian. And now for business 
first and pleasure afterwards. 

"X. (a Sunday magazine) has thrown me over. They write 
me word that I am too wicked. I tell you at once because of the 
projected, and now not-to-be-accomplished, drawings. They 
have tried to serve God and the devil together, and finding 


that goodness pays best, have thrown over me and the devil. 
I won't try to set you against them, because you can do 
Parables and other fish fit for their net ; but I am altogether 


unsuited to the regenerated! It is a pity they did not find 
it out before, but I think they are right now. I am unfi for 
the regenerated, and trust I may remain so, wishing to tpre- 
serve a character for honest intentions. 

" And now for pleasure. I get home the middle of next 
week, and we are full up to the consumption of all our cream 
and strawberries till the Monday I believe I may say 
Tuesday, i.e., Tuesday, June i6th Do, then, settle a day 
with the Thackerays and Collinses, and especially with 
Admiral Fitzroy, to come off in that week. I shall be in 
town on Wednesday night. Look in at about 1 1.30. 

" Yours always, 


'* Why have you not put down Leighton, as you promised?" 

From the same. 


"August 6th, 1866. 

" MY DEAR MILLAIS, I have written (nearly finished) a 
story in thirty-two numbers, which is to come out weekly. 
The first number is to appear some time in October. 
Smith publishes it, and proposes that there shall be one 
illustration to every number, with small vignettes to the 
chapter headings. Will you do them ? Yoti said a word 
to me tht,' other day, which was to the effect that you would 
perhaps lend your hand to another story of mine. Many of 
the characters (indeed, most of them) are people you already 
know well Mr. Crawley, Mr. Harding, Lily Dale, Crosbie, 
John Earns, and Lady Lufton. George Smith is very 
anxious that you should consent, and you may imagine that 
I am equally so. If you can do it, the sheets shall be sent 
to you as soon as they are printed, and copies of your own 
illustrations should be sent to refresh your memory. . . . 
Let me have a line. Yours always, 




Millais' marriage Life in Scotland First visitors A poaching keeper "Peace 
Concluded" "Autumn Leaves" Millais' life in chambers Serious war with 
the critics He is attacked on all sides The Times tramples upon him The 
public support him Marochetti Millais on Press criticism Charles Reade 
Birth of a son " Pot-pourri " The advantages of being punctual " Sir 
Isumbras" received with abuse Sandys' clever skit Sale of "Sir Isumbras" 
Letters from Charles Reade "Escape of the Heretic" "The Crusader's 
Return" "The Vale of Rest" The artist's difficulties overcome Anecdotes 
of "The Vale of Rest" and "The Love of James I." 

ON July 3rd, 1855, John Everett Millais was married to 
Euphemia Chalmers Gray, eldest daughter of Mr. 
George Gray, of Bowerswell, Perth.* In accordance with 
the Scottish custom, the wedding took place in the drawing- 
room at Bowerswell, and immediately afterwards came the 
baptism of the bride's youngest brother, between whom and 
his eldest sister there was a difference in age of nearly 
twenty-six years. 

And here let me say at once how much of my father's 
happiness in after years was due to the chief event of this 
day. During the forty-one years of their married life my 
mother took the keenest interest in his work, and did all in 
her power to contribute to his success, taking upon herself 
not only the care of the household and the management of 
the family affairs, but the great bulk of his correspondence, 
and saving him an infinity of trouble by personally ascertain- 
ing the objects of his callers (an ever increasing multitude) 
before admitting them into his presence. A great relief this, 
for business affairs and letter-writing were equally hateful in 

* Miss Gray had been previously married, but that marriage had been annulled 
in 1854, on grounds sanctioned equally by Church and State. Both good taste 
and feeling seem to require that no detailed reference should be made to the 
circumstances attending that annulment. But, on behalf of those who loved their 
mother well, it may surely be said that during the course of the judicial proceed- 
ings instituted by her, and throughout the period of the void marriage and the 
whole of her after years, not one word could be, or ever was, uttered impugning the 
correctness and purity of her life. 





his eyes ; and in spite of himself, his correspondence increased 
day by day. 

Possessed in a considerable degree of the artistic sense, she 
was happily free from the artistic temperament, whilst her 
knowledge of history proved also a valuable acquisition. 
When an historical picture was in contemplation, she de- 
lighted to study anew the circumstances and the characters 
to be depicted, and to gather for her husband's use all 
particulars as to the scene and the costumes of the period. 

Her musical accomplishments 
(for she was an excellent 
pianist) were also turned to 
good account in hours of leisure, 
and not infrequently as a sooth- 
ing antidote to the worries that 
too often beset the artist in 
the exercise of his craft. 

The newly - married couple 
set out for their honeymoon to 
the west of Scotland ; and after 
a ( ; lovely fortnight in Argyle- 
shire, Bute, and Arran, where 
deep-sea fishing formed their 
principal amusement, they re- 
turned to Perth and took 
possession of Annat Lodge, 
a typical old house with a 
cedared garden near Bowers- 

Among their first visitors 
was Charles Collins. He, how- 
ever, was not bent on amusing 
himself; he wanted to paint, 
and at his request my mother 

sat for him every day for a fortnight. Then, seeing that 
the picture made very slow progress, and that she was pre- 
sented as looking out of the window of a railway carriage 
a setting that would have vulgarised Venus herself she 
refused to sit any longer, and the picture was never finished. 
After this came a visit to Sir William Stirling Maxwell, of 
Keir, among whose guests was the handsome and accom- 
plished Spaniard Guyanyos Riano, w r ho afterwards became a 
firm friend of my parents. Sir William was devoted to 

Study of the bell in Winterton Church made by 

John Luard. Used by Millais for 

Tennyson illustrations. 1857 




literature, and was then at work on his Life of Don John of 

Their next visitors at Annat Lodge were John Leech and 
Henry Wells (now Royal Academician), both intimate 
friends, and when Mr. Wells left, Leech and Millais amused 
themselves with fishing and shooting in various parts of 
Perthshire, enjoying especially a week at Blair, where they 
were entertained by the Duke of Athol. It was here that 
" Mr. Briggs," of Punch, originated in the fertile brain of 

In the late autumn of 1855 Millais took a small shooting on 
the south bank of the Tay called Tarsappie handy of itself 
as being near the town, 
and, as he presently found, 
equally handy for other 
people who liked to poach 
there. After some ex- 
perience of their depre- 
dations it occurred to him 
that his keeper might 
possibly be in league with 

these gentry. So one day, 

on the eve of a shooting 

party for which he had 

arranged, he made a little 

surprise visit to the ground, 

when Mr. Keeper was 

discovered reclining under 

a tree with a goodly array of hares and partridges tastefully 

arranged within reach. These Millais promptly made him 

gather up and carry in front of him to Annat Lodge, growling 

and groaning all the way under the heavy load. There was 

a vacancy for a keeper at Tarsappie next morning. 

But it was time now to get to work again in earnest. 
Nothing could be done during the honeymoon, and not much 
while guests were about ; and with pictures in hand and 
publishers pressing for drawings any further holiday was 
impossible. So limiting his amusements to a day now and 
then at his shooting, Millais settled clown to work for the 
winter, taking up, first, the special edition of Tennyson 
published by Moxon, for which he made twelve drawings, 
and afterwards eighteen illustrations for the edition pub- 
lished by Macmilian. At these he worked mainly in the 
i. 19 

By John Luard 


evenings, with the aid of a reflector lamp, commencing imme- 
diately after dinner and seldom leaving off before midnight. 
And this after painting most of the day ! 

Mr. Wells tells me that while he and Leech were there 
the evenings were generally spent in this way, Millais 
working away in the dining-room, in company with them- 
selves and my mother ; and nothing surprised them so much 
as the energy and persistence with which their host worked 
while carrying on at the same time a lively conversation with 
his wife and guests. 

The picture called " Peace Concluded, 1856," but better 
known as " The Return from the Crimea," was painted this 
year, the subject being a wounded officer lying on a couch, 
at the head of which is seated his wife. An Irish wolf-hound 
is also lying curled up on the sofa. Of this picture Ruskin 
in his " Notes" wrote in terms which have seemed somewhat 
extravagant to other critics : " Titian himself could hardly 
head him now. This picture is as brilliant in invention as 
consummate in executive power. Both this and ' Autumn 
Leaves ' will rank in future among the world's best master- 

Colonel " Bob" Malcolm sat for the man, and my mother 
for the lady ; the portrait of her at this period being, 1 am 
told, singularly life-like. The Irish wolf-hound, " Roswell," 
bred in the Queen's kennels, w r as given to my mother by a 
Mr. Debas, and was the only pet animal she and my father 
ever possessed. They were both much attached to him, but 
he became such a terrible poacher that, to save him from 
being shot, they sent him out to Australia, to my uncle, 
George Gray, who found him most useful in hunting big 
kangaroos, until he came to an untimely end by eating some 
poisoned meat that had been put out for the dingoes. 

The picture was purchased by Mr. James Miller, of 
Preston. It is not, however, a good example of his art, 
though there are beautiful passages in the work. 

"Autumn Leaves" is too well known to need any descrip- 
tion here. It was painted this year in the garden at Annat 
Lodge, and probably in none of Millais' works is the charm 
of the northern afterglow more strikingly presented. That 
it was highly appreciated by Mr. Ruskin may be gathered 
from the Academy Notes, 1856, in which he refers to it as 
"by much the most poetical work the painter has yet con- 
ceived ; and also, so far as I know, the first instance of a 

i8 5 6] "AUTUMN LEAVES" 291 

perfectly painted twilight. It is easy, as it is common, to 
give obscurity to twilight, but to give the glow within its 
darkness is another matter ; and though Giorgione might 
have come nearer the glow, he never gave the valley mist. 
Note also the subtle difference between the purple of the 
long nearer range of hills and the blue of the distant peak." 

The picture (lately the property of Mr. James Leathart) 
was originally sold to Mr. Eden, of Lytham, from whom 
it passed to Mr. Miller, the purchaser of " Peace Concluded." 
How he came by it is amusingly told by a writer in the 
Magazine of Art of November, 1896, who says: "I 
should like to relate to you a circumstance connected with 
' Autumn Leaves,' which I heard from Mr. Eden at Lytham. 
When the picture reached him he did not like it, and he 
asked the great painter to take it back ; but this, Mrs. 
Millais said, was impossible. He was then told to sit 
opposite it when at dinner for some months, and he would 
learn to like it. He tried this, but alas! disliked it more 
and more. One day a friend I think Mr. Miller of 
Preston called, saw the picture, was enchanted, and said, 
* Eden, I will give you any three of my pictures for 
4 Autumn Leaves.' 'As you are a great friend,' said Eden, 
' you shall have it ' ; and so the picture changed hands. 
This is what Mr. Eden told me, and it is on its way to 
be amongst the world's masterpieces." 

Besides these works Millais found time to paint, in the 
spring of 1856, a small picture of a soldier in the 42nd 
Highlanders ("News from Home"), which he sold to Mr. 
Arthur Lewis, and also a little portrait of Mrs. John Leech, 
which he presented to her out of affection for her husband. 
And in the Academy he exhibited, in addition to " Peace 
Concluded " and " Autumn Leaves," a " Portrait of a Gentle- 
man," " L'Enfant du Regiment," and "The Blind Girl." 

To arrange for this exhibition while continuing his work 
in town, he left Annat Lodge at the beginning of April, 
and took rooms in Langham Chambers along with his 
friend Captain John Luard ; and here, while working with 
a will, they enjoyed themselves right heartily, after the free- 
and-easy fashion dear to the heart of youth. The two 
painters kept open house to their friends, but generally 
spent their evenings at the Garrick, w r here many of the 
literary and artistic celebrities of the clay delighted to 
congregate when their work was over. 




As to Millais, he was in no wise cowed by the combined 
forces of the Press and the Academy, who now put forth 
their strength to crush him as the leader of the new school 
of artists. Knowing that he stood on the vantage-ground 
of truth, he faced his foes in full assurance of victory in 
the end, whatever he might suffer in gaining it. And that 
he did suffer in person, if not in purse is evident from 
some of his letters to his wife, in which, as will presently 
be seen, he complains bitterly of his treatment. 

In reading these letters it 
must be borne in mind that in 
those days a great London news- 
paper had far more influence in, 
the formation of public opinion 
than it has to-day, especially in 
country places, where the utter- 
ances of the great " We " were 
too often regarded as " confirm- 
ation strong as proof of Holy 
Writ." Allowance, too, must be 
made for the fact that the letters 
were written in the hot youth 
of a man keenly alive to praise 
or blame, and whose whole 
future depended on the issue 
of the struggle in which he was. 
engaged. Not only were the 
leading newspapers against him, 
but some of the most influential 
members of the Academy joined 
in the crusade with an animosity 
hardly conceivable in these 
liberal and more enlightened times ; and but for the audacity 
he displayed in his dealings with them, they would have 
given him no chance of showing his pictures to advantage. 

Happily all this sort of thing has long gone by. With 
a magnanimity worthy of our greatest paper, the Times 
has made full amends for the mistakes of former years ; and 
much the same thing may be said of other papers ; while 
as to the Academy, it is to-day about as pure and fair a 
tribunal as any on earth. 

But now to the letters themselves, from which, as a picture 
of my father's life at this period, I quote somewhat fully. 

Tennyson illustrations. 1857 

S 53 

Pencil study 

i8 5 6] LETTERS TO HIS WIFE 295 

Writing to his wife, he says : 

"April jtk, 1856. We have just had breakfast. Luard 
is smoking a first pipe, and has prepared a palette for me 
to paint the little child's white dress. I found everything 
so nicely packed, my darling, that Luard has been noticing 
it and envying me. 

" I cannot express the success of the pictures. It is 
far beyond our most sanguine expectations. I have in- 
creased the price of all three ['Peace Concluded,' 'Autumn 
Leaves,' and 'The Blind Girl'], which I shall get without 
any difficulty ; and my studio has been already filled with 
eager purchasers begging me to remember them next year. 

" All other years pass into absolute insignificance com- 
pared with this. I shall make a struggle to get the little 
soldier finished ; but I am to go and help a brother artist, 
poor Martineau, who is in a fix with a picture. 

"The artists here imagine that my pictures are the work 
of years, instead of a few months. There has been a report 
that I have taken to the most unfinished style, which, like 
many evil reports, have their good effect on me, for the 
pictures seem to astonish people more than ever by their 
finish. I know how pleased you will be to hear this ; but 
you must not be too much elated ; for this great mercy from 
God is very awful, and I cannot help feeling a little 
nervous about it, fearing a possible turn in my fortune. 
This, however, may be unnecessary and wrong in me ; but 
seeing how differently He deals with many others about us, 
I am surprised at the steps I have made in advance." 

After observing how different his and his friend Holman 
Hunt's styles are becoming, after running so long together, 
he continues: "What Ruskin and the critics are to do, I 
don't know ; but it will be great fun for us." 

In another letter at this period he says : " I am ashamed 
of myself for not having been to church to-day. I slept so 
sound that the bells were ringing before I was out of bed. 
Luard and Robert Malcolm get on admirably together. They 
are at this moment talking about the Crimea, and we have 
just been looking at L.'s sketches from Sebastopol. Halliday 
has just appeared, so I am writing this in a howl of conver- 
sation and much smoke. I dine with Leech at six." 

And on April iStk. "Yesterday I went with Luard to 
the Garrick, and afterwards to the Olympic Theatre, to see 
Still Waters Run Deep, a most admirable play, and delight- 


fully acted. This afternoon I go with Leech and his madam 
to choose the bonnets. He says there is but one really good 
place not a shop so I daresay I shall be able to get some- 
thing pretty for you. . . ." 

After sending in his pictures to the Academy he went 
home to Perth for a few days, and then returning to town 
he hastened to the Academy, to see how his works had been 
hung. What he found there is related in the following 
letter : 

" LANGHAM CHAMBERS, April 29^, '856. 

" DEAREST COUNTESS, [a nonsensical term he often applied 
to my mother] Yesterday I went to the Royal Academy, and 
made Luard write to you, as you would be anxious to hear 
how my pictures were placed. Nothing could be better. The 
largest ('The Return from the Crimea') is next to Edwin 
Landseer's, in the large room. 'Autumn Leaves' is in the 
middle room, beautifully seen ; and, I think, the best appre- 
ciated. ' The Blind Girl ' is in the third room (the first 
going into the exhibition) on the line, but rather higher than 
I like, as its finish is out of the reach of short people. The 
child on the tomb [' L'Enfant du Regiment'] is also in this 
room, and perfectly hung. 

" I saw Landseer there, and Grant, who was most civil ; 
and both expressed great admiration for my work. There 
is a great movement just now in the matter of copyright, and 
I enclose a paper distributed to the members on the subject. 
There must soon be a better understanding between artists 


and dealers. 

" Last night I went to the theatre with Egg and Luard, 
and afterwards to the Garrick, where I met Leech, who wants 
me to dine at Richmond with him next Sunday. ... I long 
to be back for good, and begin the trees in blossom." 

My father was very fond of going out in the evening, 
either to the Garrick or to a theatre, with some of his 
particular friends. On May ist, 1856. he writes: "Last 
night Martineau, Halliday, and I dined with Luard at the 
Garrick, after which we adjourned to the Victoria Theatre, 
for the fun of the thing, to see a regular out-and-out melo- 
drama, and were not disappointed. We got a box for $s., 
and laughed so immoderately at the pathetic parts that we 
were nearly turned out. I dine with Leech on Sunday, at 

is 5 6] LETTERS TO HIS WIFE 297 

the ' Star and Garter ' at Richmond, and with Hunt to-night ; 
so I have plenty of occupation." 

It will be seen from the following letters how the world, 
the critics, and the purchasers of his pictures were disposed 
towards him : 

"May 2nd, 1856. The private view is going on, but I don't 
go near the Royal Academy, of course. I went for amusement 
to Christie's auction-rooms, to see Rogers' pictures sold, and 
there met Mr. Miller, who had just come from the exhibition, 
mightily pleased with his ' Peace Concluded.' Everything is 
going on splendidly, and I now wait for the verdict of the 
public, who are the only really disinterested critics. Every 
day I meet with the Academicians I perceive new horrors. 
So determined are they to insult every man who chooses to 
purchase my works, that this year they have done the same 
with Miller as they did with Arden, when he bought ' The 
Order of Release.' For the first time they have not sent 
him an invitation to the dinner, at which he smiles, knowing 


the reason. Anyhow, it is rather a triumph for us, as these 
wretched, ungentlemanly dealings only tend to reveal the truth." 

"May \st, 1856. I have just come from the Academy, 
which is open to the public this morning. I saw Eden (the 
owner of ' Autumn Leaves '), which was my reason for 
j^oing, but I didn't go into the rooms, as I did not wish to 
be seen near my pictures. The impression of all the best 
men is most flattering to me, in spite of the same unjust and 
determined opposition. On the whole, the critics are rather 
worse than ever, but it really does not seem to matter much, 
beyond leading ignorant people to say very foolish things. 

" I have found out the name of the Times critic. It is 
F- , an artist. I don't, indeed, expect any better treat- 
ment from the Press in my lifetime, as the critics are too inti- 
mately mixed up with the profession. Of course, there are 
many criticisms as much in favour as some are against. I 
would not see them, however, had not Leech made me look 
at some, to see how absurdly contradictory they are ; but the 
result is the same as in other years there is no getting near 
the pictures at the opening so I am perfectly satisfied with 
the reception of them this year. 

" The only reason for being annoyed at the continued 
bullying from the Press is on your account and that of your 
family and friends, who think more of the matter than people 
in London, who only laugh at it. ..." 




j j s *r 

is only a libel on her. 

"May $rd, 1856. Luard is smoking benignly, and asking 
me about the Royal Academy, and I have some difficulty to 
write this and answer his questions about the exhibition. I 
cannot tell you of the incivility of certain of the members 
and their cantankerous and jealous criticisms and un- 
generosity. It is nothing new to me, however, for I have 
seen it for some years now. I dined at the Garrick yester- 
day, and saw David Roberts, R.A., and exchanged civilities. 
In the exhibition there is a very striking portrait of Miss 
Guyanjos, by John Phillip ; but Landseer and others say it 

Gambart [the dealer] has been 
here, but I cannot get him to 
sign the paper. No one will, 
under the present state of the 
copyright law. If he signed 
it he would be responsible for 
the actions of others, which no 
man would do. Besides, there 
would always be such a drag 
in the sale of the picture, for 
men will not purchase anything 
with a claim still on it. There 
is a great stir in the matter of 
copyright, and I think some- 
thing will be done. As it stands, 
I hear it is impossible to obtain 
any legal hold in the matter. 
But enough of 'shop.' I must 
be off to the Royal Academy again, to make a sketch of 
the heads in ' Autumn Leaves ' for the Illustrated London 
News. ..." 

The plot continued to thicken. Next day Millais writes : 
" I hope this will come to hand before you see the Times, 
which is more wickedly against me this year than ever. It 
is well understood here that the criticism is not above board, 
and that there is more than mere ignorance in the man. 
Beyond a sudden surprise on seeing the criticism, I was not 
much disturbed, as it has been my fate from the first, and 
probably will be to the last, to meet with ungenerous treat- 
ment from newspapers. A very young man doesn't get 
900 guineas for his pictures without some attempt at de- 
traction. I am of course greatly astonished, as it is settled 
that I am to paint the principal man of the paper. This 


i8 5 6] 



makes it a riddle, and will doubtless cause strange observa- 


tions. All I beg of you and your family is to wait and see 
how one young man will oblige the great British organ to 
alter their views. There is some underhand trickery which 
must sooner or later come to light. I am not at all sure that 
it does not spring from the Academy itself; indeed, there is 
every reason to suppose it does. The envy and this deter- 
mined cabal against me make me long to return home. In 
one word, I have the whole of the 
Royal Academy (with one or two 
exceptions) dead against me, which 
makes all intercourse with them 
unpleasant. The ' Peace Concluded ' 
has sold for a great deal more than 
any other picture in the Royal 
Academy excepting Landseer's, and 
I shall obtain a still better price 
next year. With this knowledge, 
I think we may rest very well 
satisfied, as such solid success is 
never achieved against such powerful 
opposition without its having un- 
mistakable deserts. This the world 
will see, in spite of all these shameful 
attempts to ruin me. 

" I hope you will not care a straw 
for the 7 'i'mes' criticism. Our fathers 
will feel it much more than we, as 
they know less of the humbug of 
the British Press. People here in 
London soon perceive the injustice 
of such articles, so they go for nothing ; but of course it 
retards my position in the country, where people regard as 
gospel what they read in the newspapers. Now let me 
assure you that I am ' quite calm ' (as the French say), and 
you must not disturb yourself by picturing me in the act of 
tearing my hair for mortification. Nothing of the kind, 
my love ; I am quite merry." 

When the Academy was opened to the public an extra- 
ordinary amount of interest was shown in his work. There 
was always a big crowd round his pictures, but he was ttx> 
shy to go near them himself. 

On May 8th, 1856, he writes in the following strain : " I 

Circ. 1857 


never expected such complete success as the pictures are 
making. People cannot get near the two largest. I sa\v 
Marochetti [the great Italian sculptor who worked in Eng- 
land] yesterday, and he made several attempts, but could see 
nothing. What the Baron said is sufficiently cheering. His 
coloured marble busts are magnificent beyond everything. I 
was so delighted with the surpassing beauty of a soft-coloured 
head (in marble, of course) of some relation of the Princess, 
that I expressed a hope that some day I should be rich 
enough to afford having yoii done in the same way ; when he 
jumped at the thought, and said he would consider it an 

understood thing- that he should make a bust of vou in return 

& j 

for any sketch I should give him, adding that he would beg 
my acceptance of it if I hesitated. He has seen you, and 
admires you immensely. Indeed, as he is very desirous of 
getting portraits of all the most beautiful persons he can get 
to sit, this kindness has something to do with your looks. . . . 
" I never saw anything more shameless than the treatment 
by the R.A. of my work. Every year it is the same. The 
surest sign of a young man's work being worthless is 
generosity and applause from the Academy ! . . . I have 
seen other papers all absurdly contradicting their former 
selves. Most of them are better than any I have ever before 


received ; and some that have tremendously abused me for 
years have changed their critics, and now as immoderately 
praise me. The Athenccuiu, Spectator, Chronicle, Press, 
Advertiser, and many others praise me up to the skies, and 
papers that used hitherto to applaud now hiss me! It is 
simply ridiculous, but (as I am happy to think) you all under- 
stand this, so I won't say any more about it. I don't think 
there have ever been such endeavours to swamp a man as in 
my case, or ever such a complete failure." 

In these days, as will be seen, he felt keenly the shameless 
attacks of the critics, although personally so successful ; for 
the artistic temperament is not prone to bear patiently 
the pin-pricks of constant and malignant opposition. His 
letter to my mother, dated May 8th, 1856, shows this. 
He says : " I thought of you yesterday. You may imagine 
how heartily I wish you ' many happy returns of the day.' I 
have a very nice letter from your father this morning, and 
think that his version may be the right one. Certainly there 
never were such cunningly devised machinations against my 
character and fortune. It makes me hate ' London's fine 

"THE RESCUE." 1855 
By permission of Mr. Holbrook Gaskell 


city,' and feel less dependence on the things of this world. 
Poor Hunt, though well praised in the Press, has not found a 
purchaser for his ' Scapegoat,' in spite of the lowness of the 
price he asks. A very highly finished picture, too, and twice 
the size of my largest. 

"The newspaper criticisms are by no means all against 
me, and I have more confidence in the w r eekly and monthly 
periodicals ; but with all against me I could still hold my 
place. It is only a matter of time perhaps beyond our lives 
but ultimately right and truth must prevail. I confess it is 
a lesson to me all this determined opposition. The best 
art does not at first meet with general comprehension, and I 
believe sincerely that the chief reason why my works are so 
picked to pieces is their being out of the scale of received 
conventionalities. One thing you will notice is that no 
criticism or reports go to say that any of the faces in the 
pictures are ugly, and hundreds are daily exclaiming about 
the beauty of the heads of the children. I cease to feel any 
more upon the subject, as nearly every notice goes only to 
contradict the preceding one. I see, too, everybody more or 
less inclined to lean favourably to Hunt, after abusing him. 
Human nature all over! It has been gradually coming to 
this, and I have now lost all hope of gaining just appreciation 
in the Press ; but, thank goodness, ' the proof of the pudding 
is in the eating,' for in that way they cannot harm me, except 
(as your father shrewdly remarks) in the copyright. Nothing- 
could have been more adverse than the criticism on ' The 
Huguenot} yet the engraving is now selling more rapidly than 
any other of recent times. I have great faith in the mass of 
the public, although one hears now and then such grossly 
ignorant remarks. ... It is just the same with music and 
literature. At Gambart's last night, a man made a complete 
buffoon of himself with wretched ' comic ' songs, and the 
audience screamed with enjoyment. Also at the Haymarket 
Theatre the comedy there a farrago of old, worn-out jokes, 
badly acted was received with enthusiasm, and parts meant 
for pathos were mistaken for fun and laughed at accordingly." 

After giving some details of the ways of the two largest 
dealers in London, one of whom always dealt fairly with him, 
whilst the other invariably " made a poor mouth " and 
" crabbed " his pictures, but always re-sold greatly to his 
own advantage, as well as making a small fortune out of the 
copyrights, he continues : 


"' I have been to Gambart's this morning to settle how he 
is to pay for 'The Blind Girl.' All men have different ways 
of dealing, and his way is to pay me the moment the picture 
is in his possession. This is understood ; and directly the 
R.A. closes (three months from now) he settles. . . . Now I 
have to see X (another dealer), with whom I have had 
no conversation since the opening. I have purposely kept 
away, so that he might learn the feeling of the intelligent 
public about the picture he has bought. If I had been 
before, I know he would have quoted (as he did last year) 
the newspaper criticisms, and their prejudicial influence, 

etc., etc. But, curiously 
enough, whenever an 
engraving comes oiit 
from his firm there is 
always a favourable 
article in the papers. . . . 
" Since there is such 
a demand for my works, 
I can afford not to be 
humbugged by these 
people, as other poor 
fellows are; and I think 
one great reason for 
the opposition this year 
is the sudden great in- 


The dealers, of course,. 

like to get pictures for ,200 and sell them for ^"2000. . . . 
1 am continually the object of unpleasant remarks from 
women as well as men, but beyond working out conscien- 
tiously a means of support for us both, I do not care ; and 
this, please God, I shall accomplish in time." 

As a further insight into the rotten criticisms of the 
period, a day or two later he tells of the treatment meted 
out to Charles Reade, whom he mentions for the first time^ 
and who afterwards became a great friend of his. 

""May, 1856. I have just come from the Crimean lecture 
of the Times correspondent, Russell [Sir William Howard 
Russell, afterwards a devoted friend], on the war. It was 
odd to see the man who at the time of the war was dreaded 
by both the army and the navy brought before the public, 
to receive in his turn their criticism. . 

i8 5 6] 



Here follows an account of the lecture, which took place 
before empty seats, in spite of the eulogistic prelude of the 
Times ; for only the famous correspondent's personal friends 
mustered in force : ' : I dined at the Garrick with Reade, 
the author of It is Never too Late to Mend. He is 
delighted with my pictures, and regards all criticism as 
worthless. He has never been reviewed at all in the Times, 
although his book has passed through more editions than 
most of the first-class novels. 
White [the dealer] brought a 
finished proof of ' The Hugue- 
not ' this morning, and the 
few slight corrections Barlow 
[the engraver] has to make 
will not take him more than 
a week ; so you may look for 
it very soon." 

On May 3oth Annat Lodge 
was enlivened by the birth of 
Millais' first child (Everett), 
news of which he conveyed 
to his cousin, Mrs. George 
Hodgkinson, in the following 
terms: "Just a line to say 
that I am the distinguished 
owner of a little gentleman. 
The nurse, of course, says it 
is like me, adding that it is an 
extremely handsome produc- 
tion ! But what nurse does 
not say the same thing ? How- 
ever, it has blue eyes and a 
little downy brown on the top 
of its head." 

For the holiday season 

Millais took the manse of Brig-o'-Turk in Glenfinlas, and in 
August he and my mother went there, accompanied by her 
sisters, Alice and Sophie Gray. Here, after an interval of 
shooting and fishing, he painted a small portrait of the 
minister a hard-featured and by no means prepossessing 
Celt and then, returning to Annat Lodge, he set to work 
on "Pot-pourri" and "Sir Isumbras at the Ford." 

Foreseeing that an account of her husband's pictures 


I. 20 


how, when, and where they were painted, and what became 
of them would some day be of interest, my mother deter- 
mined to keep a record of all that he painted after their 
marriage, and forthwith started a book for that purpose. 
But, alas ! the work was never completed. My father made 
such fun of it that in 1868 she unwillingly gave it up. It 
contains, however, explicit information about several of his 
works. Of "Pot-pourri" she says: "This little picture 
was painted for a Mr. Burnett, but when completed he was 
unable to purchase it. It was painted from my sister Alice 
and little Smythe of Methven Castle, Alice's dress of green 
satin and point flounces forming a happy contrast to the 
rich velvet and gold trimmings in little Smythe's dress. 
The background is principally crimson, and the whole effect 
very rich and brilliant. 

" Mr. Millais sold this picture to Mr. White, the dealer 
in Madox Street, for ^150, and he in turn sold it, a week or 
two afterwards, for ^"200 to Mr. G. Windus, junior. 

"When Mr. Burnett saw it he was most anxious to get it, 
and White promised it to him if he came on a certain day 
not later than four p.m. Mr. Windus, however, was equally 
determined to have it ; and, arriving early on the appointed 
day, he waited till the clock struck four, and then carried 
off the picture in a cab, to the great disgust of Mr. Burnett, 
who arrived a quarter of an hour late." Moral Even 
in business it is well to be punctual now and then. 

My mother has some interesting notes on the subject of 
"Sir Isumbras," which she calls "The Knight, a dream 
of the past, 1857." 

"This picture occupied Mr. Millais during the winter 
in conjunction with ' The Heretic.' He was extremely 
expeditious in finishing the background, which did not take 
him more than a fortnight. During the end of October and 
beginning of November, 1856, he went every day to the 
Bridge of Earn and painted the old bridge and the range 
of the Ochills from under the new bridge, composing the 
rest by adding a medieval tower.* The gardener afterwards 
brought a large quantity of flags from the river, and they 
were put in a tub and painted in his studio. The horse 
gave him a world of vexation from first to last. He always 

* The tower was painted from old Elcho Castle, situated on the south bank of 
the Tay, six miles below Perth. An additional group of trees also aided the 

By permission oj ike Corporation of Birmingham 

i8 5 6] 



said he had chosen a fine animal to paint from, but most 
people thought not. He painted it day after day in the 
stableyard at Annat Lodge, and had made a very beautiful 
horse when Gambart, the dealer, saw the picture, and offered 
;8oo for it, but said the horse was too small. Millais 
refused this price, thinking he ought to get more, and 
Gambart left. After a little while Millais began to think 
the horse was too small, and most unfortunately took it out, 
and finished by making his animal too large. All the critics 
cried out about the huge horse, called it Roman-nosed, and 
said every kind of absurd thing about it, forgetful of the 
beauty of the rest of the picture. The critics would, 

ROSWELL. 1856 

perhaps, not have been so ill-natured had they known the 
sufferings the horse cost the painter, who worked out of 
doors in the dead of winter, sometimes in frost and snow, 
perched on a ladder, and sometimes sitting in bitter east and 
north wind with his canvas secured by ropes to prevent 
it falling. The horse was never still for one instant, and 
like the painter was greatly aggravated by the intense cold. 
I had to send down warm soups and wine every now and 
then and attend to things generally. After the Academy 
closed without any offer being made for the picture, Millais 
determined to have it back to Scotland, and once more to 
entirely repaint the horse. After some months he completed 
it. The same animal came and stood day after day in our 
yard, the representation of the old one having been com- 
pletely removed from the canvas by means of benzole, 




the smell of which drove us out of the painting-room for 
a day or two. The new horse now appeared, to my mind, 
exactly like the first one. It was almost finished, when one 
day, whilst it was still wet in places, a strong wind arose 
and blew over the iron chair to which the picture had been 
imperfectly fixed, one corner going like a nail right through 
the head of the knight. This was a dreadful accident, and 
Millais was in a terrible state of mind, vowing he would 
never touch or look at it again. However, in the course 
of a day or two a firm of London canvas makers mended 


it so beautifully that the rent could not be seen. I thought 
this picture doomed to failure, for on the day it left us to go to 
the Liverpool Exhibition, it poured in such torrents and was 
so stormy, that I became superstitious. However, with the 
new horse and the knight s leg lengthened, it attracted con- 
siderable attention in Liverpool, and the committee did not 
know whether to give Millais the prize of ^50 for it or for 
his ' Blind Girl.' ' The Blind Girl,' however, carried the day 
by one vote." 

Colonel Campbell, an officer quartered in Perth, sat for 
the figure of the knight, whilst the little boy and girl were 
respectively the artist's eldest son and Miss Nellie Salmon, 
now Mrs. Ziegler. 



3 11 

" Time and varnish," I have heard my father say, " are 
the greatest Old Masters that ever lived." And, in the face 
of recent experience, who will dare to say they are not ? As 
quaint old Tusser has it, "Time tries the troth in every- 
thing"; tries, too, our Art critics, and their right to dogmatise 
as they do on works that Time has not yet touched ; and in 
this matter of "Sir Isumbras" his judgment is dead against 

In 1857, when the picture was exhibited in the Academy, 
it was greeted with howls of 

execration, the lion's roar of Hj^j 

Mr. Ruskin being heard high 
above the jackal's yelp of his 
followers. The great critic 
could see in it no single point 
for admiration ; only faults of 
fact, of sentiment, and of Art ; 
but now that time and varnish 
have done their work, we find 
it as universally praised as it 
was formerly condemned a 
lesson that living painters may 
well take to heart for their 
comfort in times of depression. 

Mr. Stephens, who has 
written so well on Millais' 
works, says of this picture : 
" ' Sir Isumbras at the Ford ' 
was the subject of the picture 
Millais made his leading work 
in the year 1857. It represented 
an ancient knight, all clad in 
golden armour, who had gone 
through the glories of this life 
war honour, victory and reward, wealth and pride. Though 


A picture never completed 


he is aged and worn with war, his eye is still bright 

with the glory of human life, and yet he has stooped his 
magnificent pride so far as to help, true knight as he was, 
two little children, and carries them over a river ford upon 
the saddle of his grand war-horse, woodcutter's children as 
they were. The face of this warrior was one of those pic- 
torial victories which can derive their success from nothing 
less than inspiration. The sun was setting beyond the forest 




that gathered about the river's margin, and, in its glorious 
decadence, symbolised the nearly spent life of the warrior." 
In his Notes on the Grosvenor Gallery, 1885, he gives a 
vivid account of what followed on the exhibition of the 
picture in 1857. "The appearance of 'Sir Isumbras/" he 
says, "produced a tremendous sensation. Satires, skits, 
jokes, deliberate analyses and criticisms most of them 
applied to purposes and technical aims not within the artist's 
intention when the picture was in hand crowded the 

* , 


columns of the comic as of the more serious journals. Utter 
ruin and destruction were prophesied of the artist who, some- 
what rashly, had followed a technical purpose, but whose 
success in that respect cannot now be questioned. Among 
the most edifying of the comments published on ' Sir Isum- 
bras ' was a large print entitled 'A Nightmare,' and believed 
to be the work of Mr. F. Sandys, a distinguished brother 
artist, who probably was not without grievances of his own 
against critics. It generally reproduced the work in a ludi- 
crous manner, and showed the painter while in the act of 
crossing the ford on the back of a loud-braying ass. Seated 

.8 57 ] "SIR ISUMBRAS" 313 

on the front of the saddle, in the place of one of the wood- 
cutter's children, Mr. Dante G. Rossetti is supported by the 
mighty hands of the steel-clad knight. Clinging round the 
waist of the champion is a quaint mannikin, with a sheaf of 
painter's brushes slung at his back, instead of the original 
figure, meant for Mr. W. Holman Hunt. The intention of 
the designer of this satire was to suggest the position of the 
Old Masters and the modern critics at this period. On the 
bank of the river are three different figures of M. Angelo, 
Titian, and Raphael. The first stands with his face averted 
and his arms folded, while Titian and Raphael kneel in front 
of him, looking towards the animal and his freight. A small 
scroll proceeds from the animal's mouth, with the legend, 
' Orate pro nobis.' This print was not without its good 
technical qualities, and, except so far as the ass and the 
smallest riders were concerned, did no very grave injustice 
to any of the figures. Instead of his sheathed sword an 
artist's mahl-stick was suspended to the girdle of Sir John 
Millais, and by the side of this hung a bunch of peacock's 
feathers and a large paste-pot, inscribed 'P.-R.B.,' for 'Pre- 
Raphaelite Brotherhood.' ' 

The lines relating to Sir Isumbras, which appeared in the 
Academy Catalogue in Old English type, were written for the 
occasion by Tom Taylor, who also wrote the extremely 
humorous verses attached to Mr. Sandys' skit. The former 
I give here. 

" The goode hors that the knyghte bestrode, 
I trow his backe it was full brode, 
And wighte and warie still he wode, 

Noght reckinge of rivere : 
He was so muckle and so stronge, 
And thereto so wonderlich longe 

In londe was none his peer. 
N'as hors but by him seemed smalle. 
The knyghte him ycleped Launcival ; 
But lords at borde and grooms in stalle 

Yclept him Graund Destrere." 

About the sale of this work my mother had a good tale 
to tell. One evening in 1858, when they were living in 
London, she was standing outside the house, waiting for the 
door to be opened, when she was accosted by a grey-haired 
man in shabby garments, who said he, too, wished to come 
in. The observation startled her, for she had never seen 
the man before ; and, mistaking him in the darkness for a 


tramp, she told him to go away. " But," pleaded the 
stranger, with a merry twinkle in his eye, " I want ' The 
Knight Crossing the Ford,' and I must have it /" The 
idea now dawned upon her that he was a harmless lunatic, 
to be got rid of by a little quiet persuasion. This, therefore, 
she tried, but in vain. The only reply she got was, " Oh, 
beautiful dragon ! I am Charles Reade, who wrote Never 


Too Late to Mend, and I simply must have that picture, 
though I am but a poor man. I would write a whole 
three-volume novel on it, and then have sentiment enough 
to spare. I only wish I had someone like you to guard my 
house ! " 

And he got the picture ! For, though a stranger to my 
mother, my father knew him well, and was pleased to find 
on his return home that it had fallen into his hands. Reade 
was, in fact, an intimate friend of Millais, and when in town 
they met together almost daily at the Garrick Club. 

That he was proud of his purchase the following letter to 
Millais attests : 

From Charles Reade. 


" IL MAESTRO, The picture is come, and shall be hung 
in the drawing-room. I cannot pretend to point out exactly 
what you have done to it, but this I know it looks admir- 
ably well. I hope you will call on me and talk it over. I am 
very proud to possess it. Either I am an idiot, or it is an 
immortal work. " Yours sincerely, 


In another letter he says : " It is the only picture admitted 
into the room, and has every justice I can tender it. As 
I have bought to keep, and have no sordid interest in crying 
it up, you must allow me to write it up a little. It is in- 
famous that a great work of Art should be libelled as this 
was some time ago." 

In a letter to Millais, asking for a ticket for the "private 
view" day at the Academy, he says: "The private view, 
early in the morning, before I can be bored with cackle of 
critics and entangled in the tails of women, is one of the 
things worth living for, and I shall be truly grateful if you 
will remember your kind promise and secure me this 

i8 57 ] "SIR ISUMBRAS" 317 

On Charles Reade's death, "Sir Isumbras" became the 
property of Mr. John Graham, and on his death Mr. Robert 
Benson bought it for a large sum. 

Touching the alterations and additions it received in 1892, 
Mr. Benson kindly sends me the following note: "As to 
' The Knight ' I bought it at Christie's, at the sale of the 
pictures of Mr. John Graham of Skelmorlie, in (I think) 1886. 
It was framed in an abom- 
inable stucco frame, of 
about 1857, with rounded 
top corners. I had a carved 
frame made from one of the 
fine models in the South 
Kensington Museum. 

"I think he (Millais) 
was glad that we got it, 
and Lady Millais too. One 
day I asked him what he 
thought of putting some 
trappings on the horse, 
and he jumped at the 
idea, saying that he should 
like to have the chance 
of improving the outline 
the silhouette, as you 
may still see it in Hollyer's 
photo and relieve and 
break the blackness of 
the beast. 

" Thenceforward we 
went about, my wife and 

I, taking notes and studies MOTHER AND CHILD, arc. 1860 

of horse - trappings and 

armour wherever we met with them. Our most promising 
finds were in the Escurial, in the armoury at Madrid. One 
day in 1892 (it was July i ith) he wrote asking us to let him 
have it, and to send him our notes. There was to be an 
exhibition at the Guildhall, and he wanted it to be seen again. 
So I sent it with the notes and a photo, on which I roughly 
pencilled what we thought it needed, viz., a fuller throat, a 
crest, a dilated nostril, a twisted tail, a deeper girth (to give 
the horse strength to carry the man in armour, not to speak 
of the children), a broad bridle, instead of the thin green 



and yellow rein, and lastly the trappings. We also wanted 
the green and yellow bridle abolished, and a certain garish 
flower by the horse's ear. \Ye particularly begged him to 
leave the exceptionally large, open eyes of the girl, as being- 
characteristic of 1857 and of the effect he then sought. He 
kept it a month. I confess we were nervous, knowing the 
difficulty he was sure to feel in matching the work of 1857, 
and feeling our own audacity in having ventured to suggest 

by the pencilling on the 
photo just what we wanted 
done and no more. I tried 
more than once to see him, 
and once Mrs. Holford 
came with me, but whether 
he was there or not, we 
could not get into the 
studio. But on August 
i ith the picture came back 

" We were (and are still) 
delighted with what he 


did. He just removed the 
blot, and the picture re- 
mained all that we loved 
most in his work a 
splendid portrait of an 

old man, an adorable little boy, and a glorious landscape, a 
strong but balanced scheme of colour, and a composition 
which, by selecting the pictorial moment, tells a simple story 
a romance if you will that makes us all akin. 
" Here is the letter he wrote me (copy enclosed) : 

To Mr. Benson. 


"August 1 1///, 1892. 

" DEAR BENSON, Send for the Knight on Saturday 
morning, as I have done all I can for the picture, and very 
glad I am to have had the opportunity of making it so 
complete. I have seen many old and useful drawings at the 
Heralds' College, where they have the whole pageant of the 
Field of the Cloth of Gold meeting of Henry VIII. and 
Francis I., and some of the harness is covered with bells, 

STUDY OF A CHILD. Circ. 1858 

i8 57 ] "THE ESCAPE OF A HERETIC' 319 

which adds a pleasant suggestion of jingle to the Knight's 
progress. I have also been studying horses daily, and the 
stud is good enough now. It was most incorrect, and has 
necessitated a great deal of work. 

" Faulty as it undoubtedly was, the poetry in the picture 
ought to have saved it from the savage onslaught of all the 
critics, notably John Ruskin, who wrote of it, 'This is not 
a fiasco, but a catastrophe.' 

" On the other hand, Thackeray embraced me put his 
arms round my neck and said, ' Never mind, my boy, go on 
painting more such pictures.' ... I am very proud of 
having painted it, and delighted to know it is in the hands 
of one who appreciates its merits. 

"Sincerely yours, 


As a matter of fact the alterations took the artist a very 
short time to complete, when he had once decided what they 
should be. After lunch he would stroll up Kensington 
Gardens to the " Row," where he leaned over the rails, 
making a few notes and rough outlines of horses as they 
passed along, until he got the particular movement of the 
animal that he wanted to express. But, as will be gathered 
from his letter, the preliminary work involved a good deal 
of trouble. 

In the spring of 1857 Millais and his wife took rooms in 
Savile Row, London, where he chiefly occupied himself w r ith 
his picture "The Escape of a Heretic, 1559." Of this work, 
which was intended as a pendant to "The Huguenot," my 
mother writes : 

"The idea of making a pendant to 'The Huguenot' 
occurred to him whilst we were visiting Mr. W. Stirling 
at Keir, in the autumn after our marriage. That gentleman 
possesses a book of fine old woodcuts of the time of the 
Inquisition, when persecutions in the Netherlands were 
carried on under the Duke of Alva. He also possesses 
a series of Spanish pictures which had been used to illus- 
trate his own work on The Cloister Life of the Emperor 
Charles V. Amongst these woodcuts were several represent- 
ing burnings in Spain, the women and men being habited in 
the hideous dress of the ' San Benito.' The victims were 
generally attended by priests exhorting them to penitence 




as they pursued their way to the martyrs' pile. The ' San 
Benito ' dress consists of an upper shirt, without sleeves, 
of coarse sacking painted yellow, with designs of devils 
roasting souls in flames. With the aid of some engrav- 
ings of monks of the different orders, sent by Mr. Rawdon 
Brown, and the habit of a Carthusian from the Papal 
States, lent by Mr. Dickenson, we easily made up the 
dresses for the models, whilst Millais drew the staircase of 

Balhousie Castle for the prison 
from whence the girl is escaping 
by aid of her lover. Millais 
worked on this picture and 
' The Knight ' at the same 
time. The expression of the 
lover's face gave him immense 
trouble. The model was a 
young gamekeeper in the ser- 
vice of Mr. Condie. He was 
handsome, very lazy, continually 
getting tired, and not coming 
when sent for. Millais took 
the face, and mouth particularly, 
many times completely out. 
The girl's expression was very 
troublesome also, and he was 
long in pleasing himself with it." 
Whilst Millais waited the 
hanging of his pictures at the 
Royal Academy his wife tra- 
velled again to their home in 
the North. His letters to her 
at this time are particularly interesting, as showing what he 
thought of the artistic outlook. 

In the first, dated May I3th, 1857, he says : " My friends 
Bartle Frere and Colonel Turner dined with me at the 
Garrick yesterday. They are both old friends of mine, and 
we had a very pleasant party. I met Thackeray there, and 
he spread out his great arms and embraced me in stage 
fashion, in evidence of his delight at my pictures. He never 
before expressed such extreme satisfaction, and said they 
were magnificent." 

The Times review of the Royal Academy then came out 
with a stinging critique on his pictures, and all the other 


I. 21 

i8 57 ] "APPLE BLOSSOMS" 323 

papers joined in chorus. On this he wrote to his wife, on 
May i5th: "Doubtless you have seen the Times and its 
criticism. When I heard it was written in the same spirit 
as usual I did not read it. I therefore only know of its 
import through my friends. The general feeling is that it 
is not of the slightest importance. Criticism has been so 
tampered with that what is said carries little or no weight. 
Ruskin, I hear, has a pamphlet in the press which takes a 
pitying tone at my failure. The wickedness and envy at 
the bottom of all this are so apparent to me that I disregard 
all the reviews (I have not read one), but I shall certainly 
have this kind of treatment all my life. The public crowd 
round my pictures more than ever, and this, I think, must 

be the main cause of animosity I should tell you 

that although my friend Tom Taylor is said to have written 
the first two reviews in the Times, this last is not attributed 
to him. 

" The only good that I can see in the criticism is its 
unusual length (from what I hear it is nearly a column). I 
confess I am disgusted at the tone of the thing ; indeed 
with everything connected with Art. 

"Combe, of Oxford, came yesterday. He wants me to 
paint him a picture about the size of the 'Heretic' (any- 
thing larger than that size is objected to]. There is no en- 
couragement for anything but cabinet pictures. I should 
never have a small picture on my hands for ten minutes, 
which is a great temptation to do nothing else. I saw 
Tennyson again at the Prinseps', and was most entertained at 
the ' petting ' that went on. Miss B. [a famous beauty] was 
there, and asked after you. She has fallen off, but is still 

In May, 1858, they went as usual to Bowerswell, where in 
due time the artist applied himself to "Apple Blossoms," or 
" Spring" as it was latterly called, painting it in neighbouring 

Here I must again avail myself of my mother's notebook, 
and her remarks on " Spring Flowers," as she calls it. 

" This picture, whatever its future may be, I consider the 
most unfortunate of Millais' pictures. It was begun at Annat 
Lodge, Perth, in the autumn of 1856, and took nearly four 
years to complete. The first idea was to be a study of an 
apple tree in full blossom, and the picture was begun with 
a lady sitting under the tree, whilst a knight in the back- 


ground looked from the shade at her. This was to have 


been named ' Faint Heart Never Won Fair Ladye.' The 
idea was, however, abandoned, and Millais, in the following 
spring, had to leave the tree from which he had made such 
a careful painting, because the tenant at Annat Lodge would 
not let him return to paint, for she said if he came to paint 
in the garden it would disturb her friends walking there. 
This was ridiculous, but Millais, looking about for some 
other suitable trees, soon found them in the orchard of our 
kind neighbour Mrs. Seton (Potterhill), who paid him the 
greatest attention. Every day she sent her maid with 
luncheon, and had tablecloths pinned up on the trees so as 
to form a tent to shade him from the sun, and he painted 
there in great comfort for three weeks whilst the blossoms 
lasted. During that year (1857) he began to draw in the 
figures, and the next year he changed to some other trees 
in Mr. Gentle's orchard, next door to our home. Here he 
painted in quiet comfort, and during the two springs finished 
all the background and some of the figures. The centre 
figure was painted from Sir Thomas Moncrieff's daughter 
Georgiana (afterwards Lady Dudley) ; Sophie Gray, my 
sister, is at the left side of the picture. Alice is there too, 
in two positions, one resting on her elbow, singularly like, 
and the other lying on her back with a grass stem in her 
mouth. He afterwards made an etching of this figure for the 
Etching Club, and called it 'A Day in the Country.' When 
the picture of ' Spring Flowers ' was on the easel out of 
doors, and in broad sunlight, the bees used often to settle 
on the bunches of blossom, thinking them real flowers from 
which they might make their honey." 

In July, 1858, my mother went to St. Andrews, in Fife, 
and to her Millais wrote : 

" I have been working hard all day ; have finished Alice's 
top-knot, and had that little humbug Agnes Stewart again, 
but I am not sure with what success. I had capital trips 
with the MacLarens [neighbours living at Kinfauns Castle] 
to Loch Flukey [Loch Freuchie, near Amulree, formerly an 
excellent trout loch]. W T e caught eleven dozen trout, and 
had great fun about settling where to sleep. I slept on the 
dining-room table, in preference to a sofa, as the horse-hair 
appeared a likely harbour for fleas, etc. A great tub was 
brought in for the morning bath, and towels about the size 
of pocket-handkerchiefs, so I used my sheets instead. . . . 

ffl s 
3 * 

i8 5 8] 


3 2 7 

I was up at five in the Hielands, and fished a beautiful 
little river (the Braan) before breakfast. I hope you will 
get tremendously strong. All that salt water ought to do 
wonders. Sophie must also come back blooming, to be 
painted in my picture." 

On the envelope of this letter is an amusing sketch, show- 
ing some lady bathers coming out of the sea, and men 
playing golf close by. 

In August Millais went South on a visit to his parents at 
Kingston-on-Thames, where they had a charming little house 
overlooking the river. He 
went by sea, taking with 
him my mother's two young 
sisters, Sophie and Alice, 
who had also been invited ; 
and in the following letter 
he gives us a little insight 
into the home life of the old 
people : " Here we are in 
William's [his brother's] 

room. The girls are sitting 

SKETCH FOR "RUTH." Circ. 1855 

with me in perfect quiet, as 
they are still very unwell. 
Neither of them could eat 
any breakfast, and every- 
thing is whirling about them, 
as it is with me. Otherwise 
I am perfectly comfortable, 
having managed my cigar 
after breakfast. We have 

just been listening to my sister [Emily Millais, Mrs. Wallack] 
playing on the piano 'awfully well,' as the girls say. . . . 
My father has most gorgeous peaches and nectarines ripe 
against the wall, and much finer than the glass-house ones 
at Perth, which shows the climate to be warmer. 

" Now to tell you about my sister. Although I had nearly 
forgotten her, I think I would have known her again, she is 
so like William, and not at all American, as I had expected. 
She is still pretty, and her little boy is here very like her, 
with a good profile, and very excitable. She is very strong, 
though not so to look at, and has the un-put-down-able ' go ' 
of William, for since breakfast she has played to me more 
than you could play in a month, and is not the least tired. 


... It is rather a loss William not being here, as he would 
complete the group so thoroughly. 

" The place is covered with pretty flowers, and really looks 
lovely. My father has just come down and shown me two 
most beautiful water-colour drawings of William's, both of 
which are sold, and I have this minute come from looking 
after Alice, who is recovering quickly. She is in the arm- 
chair, and my father is playing the guitar to her. I can't 
tell you how very odd it seems to me, being amongst them 
here again. There is certainly a dash of the French about 
them all, for they are all so extraordinarily happy and 
satisfied with themselves." 

After this visit he went off shooting and fishing, as usual, 
for a couple of months, and on his return to Bowerswell he 
nearly finished the " Apple Blossoms," and commenced (in 
October) " The Vale of Rest." 

Here my mother's note-book again proves helpful as an 
illustration of his life and work at this period ; interesting, 
too, as a reflection of her own views on the only subject on 
which they were at variance. As a strict Presbyterian she 
greatly disliked his working on Sundays, as he often did 
when the painting fever was strong upon him ; and her 
entries on this subject are at once quaint and characteristic. 
She writes : " Mr. Millais exhibited no pictures in 1858. He 
began a last picture of a Crusader's return, and stuck, after 
five months' hard labour. I was much averse to his painting 
every Sunday, and thought no good would come of it, as he 
took no rest, and hardly proper time for his meals. He 
made no progress, only getting into a greater mess ; so when 
spring came we were thankful to pack up the picture and go 
to Scotland. Here he occupied himself on his ' Spring' 
apple blossoms picture, but did not set vigorously to work 
till the autumn. This winter [1858] he has achieved an 
immensity of work, and I attribute his success greatly to his 
never working on Sunday all this year. I will describe his 
pictures of this year in order, and begin with the Nuns 
(' The Vale of Rest '), which, like all his best works, was 
executed in a surprisingly short space of time. 

"It had long been Millais' intention to paint a picture with 
nuns in it, the idea first occurring to him on our wedding 
tour in 1855. On descending the hill by Loch Awe, from 
Inverary, he was extremely struck with its beauty, and the 
coachman told us that on one of the islands there were the 


ruins of a monastery. We imagined to ourselves the beauty 
of the picturesque features of the Roman Catholic religion, 
and transported ourselves, in idea, back to the times before 
the Reformation had torn down, with bigoted zeal, all that 
was beautiful from antiquity, or sacred from the piety or 
remorse of the founders of old ecclesiastical buildings in 
this country. The abbots boated and fished in the loch, the 
vesper bell pealed forth the ' Ave Maria ' at sundown, and 
the organ notes of the Virgin's hymn were carried by the 
water and transformed into a sweeter melody, caught up on 
the hillside and dying away in the blue air. We pictured, 
too, white-robed nuns in boats, singing- on the water in the 
quiet summer evenings, and chanting holy songs, inspired by 
the loveliness of the world around them. . . . 

" Millais said he was determined to paint nuns some day, 
and one night this autumn, being greatly impressed with the 
beauty of the sunset (it was the end ot October), he rushed 
for a large canvas, and began at once upon it, taking for 
background the wall of our garden at Bowerswell, with the 
tall oaks and poplar trees behind it. The sunsets were 
lovely for two or three nights, and he dashed the work in, 
softening it afterwards in the house, making it, I thought, 
even less purple and gold than when he saw it in the sky. 
The effect lasted so short a time that he had to paint like 

" It was about the end of October, and he got on very 
rapidly with the trees and worked every afternoon, patiently 
and faithfully, at the poplar and oak trees of the background 
until November, when the leaves had nearly all fallen. He 
was seated very conveniently for his work just outside our 
front door, and, indeed, the principal part of the picture, 
excepting where the tombstones come, is taken from the 
terrace and shrubs at Bowerswell." 

The background of " The Vale of Rest " remains very 
much to-day what it was when Millais painted it. A few 
of the old trees are gone, but there are the same green 
terraces, and the same sombre hedges ; there, too, is the 
corner of the house which, under the artist's hands, appeared 
as an ivy-covered chapel. The grave itself he painted from 
one freshly made, in Kinnoull churchyard ; and much amused 
he was by the impression he made while working there. 
Close by lived two queer old bachelors who, in Perth, went 
by the names of " Sin " and " Misery." They watched him 




intently as he painted away day by day amongst the tombs 
without even stopping for refreshment, and after the hrst day 
they came to the conclusion 'that he made his living by 
portraying the graves of deceased persons. So they good- 
naturedly brought him a glass of wine and cake every day, 
and said what they could by way of consolation for the hard- 
ships of his lot. 

The rest of the tale is thus told by my mother : " The 
graveyard portion was painted some months later, in the very 
cold weather, and the wind often threatened to knock the 




frame over. The sexton kept him company, made a grave 
for him, and then, for comfort's sake, kept a good fire in the 
dead-house. There Millais smoked his pipe, ate his lunch, 
and warmed himself." 

It is always interesting to hear from artists who have 
painted a successful picture, how and under what circum- 
stances it was done. One man will tell you that his work 
was the inspiration of a moment, and the whole thing was 
dashed off in a few days, maybe a few hours as was Land- 
seer's " Sleeping Bloodhound." Another has, perhaps, spent 
months or years on some great work ; it has been painted, 
repainted, altered a hundred times, and then not satisfied the 
painter. Again, an unsatisfactory pose of a figure has often 

i8 5 8] 


33 1 

driven a conscientious artist to the verge of insanity. And 
this was the case with the figure of the woman digging 
in " The Vale of Rest." I have heard my mother say she 
never had such a time in her life as when my father was 
painting that woman. 

Everything was perfect 
in the picture except this 
wretched female, and no- 
thing would induce her to 
go right. Every day for 
seven weeks he painted and 
repainted her, with the re- 
sult that the figure was 
worse than ever, and he 
was almost distracted. 

My mother then pro- 
ceeded to hatch a plot with 
my grandmother to steal 
the picture ! This was 
skilfully effected one day 
when he had left his work 
for a few hours. The two 
arch -plotters took it be- 
tween them and carried it 
into a wine-cellar, where it 
was securely locked up. 

When the painter re- 
turned to work and found 
his treasure gone he was, 
of course, in a dreadful state 
of mind, and on discovering 
the trick that had been 
played him, he tried every 
means to make them give 
it up to him ; but this they 

steadfastly refused to do. SKETCH FOR ILLUSTRATION. i8 59 

Here then was a predica- 
ment ! For some days he would settle to nothing, and the 
model, who received good payment, would insist on coming 
every day and sitting in the kitchen, saying that she was 
engaged till the picture was finished. The situation at last 
became comic Millais furious, the conspirators placid, 
smiling, but firm, and the model immovable. 


At last he was persuaded to set to work on some water- 
colour replicas of "The Huguenot" and "The Heretic," for 
Mr. Gambart, and as he became interested in them he 
gradually calmed down. When the picture was eventually 
returned to him, he saw at a glance where his mistake lay, 
and in a few hours put everything right. 

My uncle William tells an amusing story about this, 
which is worth repeating in his own words : " Millais, as 
everyone knows, had the greatest power in the realistic 
rendering of all objects that came under his brush, and the 
veriest tyro could not fail to recognise at a glance the things 
that he painted. I remember, however, a case in which the 
power was not recognised ; in fact, the objects painted failed 
to convey the faintest notion of what they were intended to 
represent. An old Scotchman, after looking at ' The Vale 
of Rest ' for some time, said to my brother in my hearing, 
1 Well, the picture 's all well enough, but there 's something 
I don't like.' My brother, who was always ready to listen to 
any criticism, said, ' What don't you like ? Speak out, don't 
be afraid ! ' 

" ' Well,' said he, ' I don't like the idea of water in a 
grave.' ' Water in a grave? ' said my brother. 'Well, there 
it is, plain enough ' (pointing to a mattock), ' pouring into 
the grave.' He had actually mistaken the sheen of a steel 
mattock for a jet of water, and the handle for a bridge across 
the grave. This was too good a story not to be passed 
round, and it was told on the occasion of the picture being 
privately exhibited at the Langham Chambers, just before 
being sent to the Royal Academy. There was a good 
assemblage of people, and amongst them, though unrecog- 
nised, the old gentleman himself. The story was told with 
great gusto by John Leech (in my presence), and a roar of 
laughter followed, coupled with the words, ' What an old ass 
he must have been ! ' \\ hereupon the old gentleman sprang 
up from the sofa and said, ' I 'm the verra man myselV It 
was honest of him, to say the least." 

Mr. M. H. Spielmann, who has carefully studied Millais' 
works, says of it : " This picture I have always felt to be one 
of the greatest and most impressive ever painted in England ; 
one in which the sentiment is not mawkish, nor the tragedy 
melodramatic a picture to look at with hushed voice and 
bowed head ; in which the execution is not overwhelmed by 
the story ; in which the story is emphasised by the com 

i8 5 8] "THOSE TERRIBLE NUNS" 333 

position ; and in which the composition is worthy of the 

" This is the year Mr. Millais gave forth those terrible 
nuns in the graveyard": thus Mr. Punch characterised the 
year 1859.* Even Ruskin, denouncing the methods, and 
admitting (unjustly) the ugliness and " frightfulness " of the 
figures, was constrained to allow it nobility of horror, if 
horror it was, and the greatness of the touching sentiment. 
His charge of crudeness in the painting no longer holds 
good. Time that grand Old Master to which Millais did 
homage in act and word has done the work the artist 
intended him to do ; and I venture to think that in the New 
Gallery of British Art there will be no more impressive, no 
more powerful work than that which shocked the Art world 
of 1859. 

In 1862 Millais saw how he could improve the face of the 
nun that is seated at the head of the grave, so he had the 
picture in his studio for a week, and repainted the head from 
a Miss Lane. 

During 1858 was also painted "The Love of James the 
First of Scotland." It will be remembered that this un- 
fortunate monarch was confined for many years in Windsor 
Castle. In the garden below his prison used to walk the 
beautiful Lady Jane Beaufort, and he fell in love with her ; 
but his only means of communicating with her was by 
dropping letters through the bars of the grated window. 
This is the scene represented in the picture. The castle 
and wall were taken from the picturesque old ruin of Bal- 
housie Castle, which overlooks the North Inch of Perth. On 
p. 36 1 is given a photo of the exact wall, with the model's hand 
dropping a love-letter from the window. Millais' model 
for this picture was Miss Eyre, of Kingston, whose sister, 
Miss Mary Eyre, he also painted the following year as ''The 
Bride " a girl with passion flowers in her hair, t 

While the work was in hand, an o!d woman came for three 
days, and stood staring alternately at the artist and the 
castle, evidently without any notion of what he was about. 
Disliking the presence of observers while he was at work, he 
looked up suddenly and exclaimed, " Well, what are you 

* The Times was this year favourable, and acknowledged " The Vale of Rest" 
as a work of merit. 

t This lady was singularly like the Countess de Grey, and on this account the 
portrait was purchased at a sale by Lord de Grey. 



[i8 5 s 

looking at?" To which she replied, " Weel that's juist 
what a was gaein tae ask ye. What are you glowerin at?" 
Cetera desunt. 

To the uninitiated I may explain that, in the Scotch tongue, 
"glowerin " means staring rudely and intently. 

At this time (November, 1859), though work went on 
briskly, began a long period of anxiety on account of my 
mother's health, ensuing on the birth of her eldest daughter. 
She had imprudently gone, one cold winter's day, to Murthly, 
to make a drawing of some tapestry in the old castle, for one 
of my father's pictures ; and, sitting long at her task, she 
contracted a chill, which affected the optic nerves of both 
her eyes. A temporary remedy was found, but in late years 
the mischief again reappeared, to the permanent detriment 
of her eyesight. 



The struggle of 1859 Millais seriously feels the attacks made upon him, but 
determines to fight Insulted at every turn Origin of "The Vale of Rest"- 
The fight for independence "The Black Brunswicker " Millais describes it 
Dickens' daughter sits for the lady Mrs. Perugini describes her sittings 
Faint praise from the Press Great success of the picture Holman Hunt 
likewise successful Millais' black-and-white work Letters to his wife Lady 

WE come now to the turning-point in the life of the 
painter to the period when, with the exception of 
a few strong men of independent judgment, all the powers 
of the Art world were set in array against him the critics, 
the Academy, and the Press and, under their combined 
influence, even the picture-dealers began to look askance 
at his works as things of doubtful merit. Buyers, too, held 
aloof, not daring to trust their own judgment in opposition to 
so great an authority as Mr. Ruskin ; for by this time Ruskin 
had attained a position in the land absolutely unapproached 
by any other critic before or since. With a charm of diction 
unequalled in English prose, he had formulated certain 
theories of his own which every artist must accept or reject 
under peril of his severest condemnation ; and as " Sir 
Isumbras "- the last of Millais' works that may be termed 
purely Pre-Raphaelite was found to sin against these re- 
quirements, it fell under his ban as utterly unworthy of the 
applause it had gained from the public. 

It has been well said that "the eye of a critic is often like 
a microscope, made so very fine and nice that it discovers 
the atoms, grains, and minutest particles without ever com- 
prehending the whole, comparing the parts, or seeing all 
at once the harmony." And, as will presently be seen, that 
was, in Millais' view at least, the affliction from which 
Mr. Ruskin was suffering at this time. 

It is not given to every man to withstand such a for- 
midable attack as that to which my father was now exposed. 
From the financial point of view the situation was critical 



in the extreme. Ruin stared him in the face ruin to him- 
self, his wife, and family. One cannot therefore wonder 
that, under the strain and peril of the time, his letters 
betray not only his amazement at the crass stupidity of some 
of his critics, but his deep sense of injury, and a rooted 
belief that envy, hatred, and malice were at the bottom of 
all this uproar. 

All this, together with a record of his doings during the 
months of April and May, 1859, will be found in the follow- 
ing extracts from his letters, in reading which it must be 
borne in mind that these letters were intended only for the 
eye of his wife, for whose comfort at this trying time he 
would naturally and rightly open his mind without any 
thought of egotism or empty boast. 

The letters are dated from his father's house at Kingston, 
to which in joyous anticipation of success at the coming 
Royal Academy Exhibition he betook himself with his 
pictures early in April. 

" South Cottage, jt/i April. -There are three or four 
people after my pictures, and I have no doubt of making 
more than I expected by them. William will write to you 
about what was said, but I will simply tell you in a word 
that nothing could possibly be more successful, 'The Nuns' 
especially. I have called it 

' The Vale of Rest, 
Where the weary find repose ' 

from one of Mendelssohn's most lovely part-songs. I heard 
William singing it, and said it just went with the picture, 
whereupon he mentioned the name and words, which are 
equally suitable. Marochetti said to William, before a 
number of people, that 'The Nuns' should have a place 
in the national collection, between Raphael and Titian ; and 
Thackeray and Watts expressed nearly the same opinion. 
Indeed, the praise is quite overwhelming, and I keep out 
of it as much as possible, as I am not able to bear it, I feel 
so weakened by it all. W'hile William was showing the two 
large pictures, I was painting away at the single figure, 
which I finished perfectly, having worked at it from five 
in the morning. I felt quite inspired, and never made a 
mistake. It is, I think, the most beautiful of all. 

" Nothing could exceed the kindness of my people about 
me, and only through their indefatigable assistance could 

"THE BRIDE." Circ. 1858 
By permission of Mr. A. D. Grimmond 

I. 22 

1 859] 



I have finished the third. All were framed and sent in to 
the Royal Academy in good time." 

The three pictures were "The Vale of Rest," "The 
Love of James I. of Scotland," and "Apple Blossoms." 
They had been seen and praised by hundreds of people 
before they were exhibited to the public, and the artist 
knew they were the best he had ever painted ; but no 
sooner did they appear on the Academy walls than they 
were attacked as already in- 
dicated, the admiration of the 
publicwho persistently crowded 
in front of them, and his own 
knowledge of their value, being 
the only consolation he could 
lay to heart. His next letter 
betrays the revulsion of feeling 
caused by this cruel, not to say 
malignant, attack. 

"April \o>th. In the midst 
of success I am dreadfully low- 
spirited, and the profession is 
more hideous than ever in my 
eyes. Nobody seems to under- 
stand really good work, and 
even the best judges surprise 
me with their extraordinary 
remarks. . . . Nothing can be 
more irritating and perplexing 
than the present state of things. 
There seems to be a total want 
of confidence in the merits of the pictures, amongst even 
the dealers. They seem quite bewildered. Even John 
Phillip said that he thought it was high time I should come 
and live in London. As if that had anything to do with 
my Art ! 

" I would write oftener to you, but really I have nothing 
either pleasant or satisfactory to write about. I am far from 
well, and everybody says they never saw such a change in 
any man for the worse. I could scarcely be quieter, too, 
as I never stay in town or have any wish to be amongst 
riotous fellows ; yet the reaction of leaving off work is very 
trying." . . . 

"April I3//2, 1859. There seems to be but one opinion 



amongst unprejudiced people as to the success of my pictures 
this year, but ^1000 for a picture is a very rare thing-. It is 
true that that sum has been given already this year for a 
picture by O - ; but you must remember that my pictures 
are not vulgar enough for the City merchants, who seem 
to be the only men who give these great prices. ... I am 
much better after yesterday's headache, and got up this 
morning early, and have been reading and playing chess with 
my mother ever since. . . . It is a fine day, so I shall 
go and see the University Boat Race. Yesterday I met in 
the Burlington Arcade an old friend from India, the brother 
of our old friend Grant who died. (I drew him in pen-and- 
ink, dying, surrounded by his family.) The brother has 
grown into an enormous man, with moustaches nearly half 
a yard broad a very handsome fellow." 

"April i8t/i, 1859. Hunt and Collins dined here yester- 
day. The pain in my chest is nearly gone, so I am no 
longer uneasy. It must have been from working too hard 
and leaning forward so much, but I hope to begin my work 
again this week. . . . Ruskin was talking to young Prinsep, 
and said he had been looking at the ' Mariana,' which I 
painted years ago, and had come to the sage conclusion 
that I had gone to the dogs and am hopelessly fallen. So 
there is no doubt of what view he will take of my works 
this year; but (as Hunt, who has a high opinion of their 
excellence, says) if he abuses them he will ruin himself as 
a critic. Already he is almost entirely disregarded. I hear 
that Leighton has a picture in the Royal Academy, but 
nothing of its worth. This picture, whether good or bad, 
will be set up against mine. The enmity is almost over- 
whelming, and nothing but the piiblic good sense will carry me 
through. ... I am sanguine, in spite of every drawback, 
though I know there is a possibility of my not realising my 
anticipations regarding the sale of the pictures ; but in that 
case I am perfectly prepared to keep them. They must not, 
and shall not, be thrown away." 

''April i9//z. William was singing at his Hanover Square 
Rooms last night, but I could not be there. He seems to 
have made a real success, as he always does in public. I am 
wonderfully well and have quite recovered my spirits, and 
am now prepared to act determinedly. No persuasion will 
now induce me to sacrifice my work. You see, by putting 
a very high price on it, the dealers are entirely slmt out, 

i8 59 ] 



and thereby become my most inveterate enemies, which is 
no joke considering the powerful influence they have. They, 
added to the Royal Academy, which is always against me, 
make the army a difficult one to combat. When I sold my 
works to the dealers they were my friends, and counteracted 
this artistic detraction. There is, without doubt, an immense 
amount of underhand work, and I can scarcely regard a 
single professional man as my friend. I am quite settled, 
however, in my position, to stand 
a violent siege." 

"April 2-^rd. The day after 
to-morrow I shall attend the Ex- 
hibition [at the Royal Academy] 
privately with the members. I 
am prepared for some disappoint- 
ment ; it always happens. 

"To-night at 12 all the parish 
children sing through the village, 
headed by the parson, my father, 
William, Arthur Coleridge, and 
others. Leslie (the choir-man) 
is here, staying with Coleridge ; 
he played delightfully this morn- 
ing in the studio. I am sure, dear, 
you would be charmed with the 
society here ; the people seem to 
appreciate the family very much, 
and are endless in their kind- 
nesses, sending things to my 

mother [she was very ill at this time] and inquiring daily 
after her health. William, too, is surrounded by pretty girls." 

After his visit to the Royal Academy to see how his 
pictures were hung, he writes : 

"April 2&th. It is always a melancholy thing to the 
painter to see his work for the first time in an empty room ;. 
and yesterday was a most dreadful, dark, rainy day. Every- 
thing looked dismal. The single figure is not well hung, 
although perfectly seen. All three, of course, lose in my 
eyes, for they are surrounded by such a perplexity of staring 
colour ; for instance, an officer in size of life, in a brilliant 
red coat, is hung next to ' The Nuns,' which must naturally 
hurt it. 'The Orchard' ['Apple Blossoms'], I think, looks 
better. There are no less than three pictures of orchard 



blossoms, but small, as the artist had no time to enlarge 
them. Hook's are very fine indeed, small, but lovely in 
colour quite as good as my own. He is about the only 
first-rate man they have. Boxall has some beaiitiful portraits 
one of an old man especially so. Stansfield and Roberts 
as usual. Landseer, of course, good ; but, between our- 
selves, not quite so much so as of yore. He was most 
kind, and said he understood the quality of my work en- 
tirely ; and when I told him they were unsold, he laughed 
and said, ' Oh, you need not mind about that. I would 
sell them fast enough.' Frank Grant, too, was most cordial, 
and asked after you. He and Landseer went backwards 
and forwards many times between ' The Orchard ' and ' The 
Nuns.' I am told by all the Hanging Committee that they 
have come to the conclusion that ' The Vale of Rest ' would 
have been perfect had I left the digging nun alone, and that 
' The Orchard ' is spoilt by Sophie's and Alice's heads to the 
left of the picture." 

"April 2%tk. I got home here [at Kingston] last night 
after a hard day's rubbing at the pictures, which improved 
them immensely. I see things are creeping favourably on. 
Landseer this year is a most energetic admirer ; he said 
yesterday, before many of the members, that my pictures are 
far beyond everything I have ever done. Roberts, too, said I 
am sure to sell them at the private view. I have a few truly 
good friends in the Royal Academy, amongst the best men, 
in spite of the wicked clique who, of course, do their best to 
run me down. There is no great ' catch ' this year, except 
perhaps O 's companion picture to his last year's one. It is 
very good (well painted), but egregiously vulgar and common- 
place ; but there is enough in it of a certain 'jingo' style 
to make it a favourite. This work may at first attract, but 
after a while it will not stand with the public. 

" Ruskin will be disgusted this year, for all the rubbish 
he has been praising be j ore being sent into the Royal Academy 
has now bad places. There is a wretched work like a photo- 
graph of some place in Switzerland, evidently painted under 
his guidance, for he seems to have lauded it up sky-high ; 
and that is just where it is in the miniature room ! He does 
not understand my work, which is now too broad for him 
to appreciate, and I think his eye is only fit to judge the 
portraits of insects. But then, 1 think he has lost all real 
influence as a critic. 


"To-morrow is the private view. I have given my 
tickets to John Leech and his wife. He knows all the 
Press men, and is respected by all, so his opinion will be taken 
and carry weight. Did I tell you I rowed with my father 
up to Hampton Court, and met William and a large party, 
Miss Boothby [whom William Millais afterwards married], 
Miss Eyre [who sat to Millais several times], Coleridge, etc. 
Miss Boothby and I and William and Miss Eyre had a race 
home, and we beat them. My hands suffered in consequence, 
so I cannot row again just now." 

"April 2.<^th. I have just come from the private view. 
To tell you the truth, I think it likely I shall not sell one 
of the pictures. The clique has been most successful 
against me this year, and few people look at my work. 
Ruskin was there, looking at 'The Nuns' ; and Tom Taylor, 
who said nothing. Everywhere I hear of the infamous 
attempts to destroy me (the truth is these pictures are not 
vulgar enough for general appreciation). However, I must 
wait, for I don't know what the Press will say yet. Seeing 
that there is such a strong undercurrent against me, it is 
possible they may lift me up. 

" Gambart was there, and several dealers, but none spoke 
to me. They are not anxious to look into my eyes just now, 
and no wonder ! Reade is sitting beside me as I write 

" The fact of the matter is, I am out of fashion. There 
will doubtless be a reaction, but the state of affairs in the 
Art world is at present too critical to admit of a good reward 
for all my labour. This is rather trying to me, I confess, 
after all my slavery, but it will account to you for my want 
of belief in the profession. You see, nobody knows any- 
thing about Art, so one is all at sea. The failures are most 
terrible in London just now, and things look very bad. 
What will become of Art, I don't know. It will not be 
worth following, if I cannot sell pictures such as these. I 
am sorry I have no good news for you, dear, but the look- 
out is anything but refreshing." 

" May $th.- I returned here last night and opened three 
letters from you all so kind and nice that they quite set 
me up. There have been no inquiries for any of my 
pictures ; but now they are once more crowded this time 
more than ever. You may, perhaps, laugh at it, but I have 
heard it said that the want of purchasers is a great deal due 


to Ruskin having in his last pamphlet said that I was falling 

" Hunt and Leech, as well as the Rossettis and their 
clique, have expressed their admiration of my work of late, 
and yesterday Marochetti was kind enough to express the 
same sentiments. Landseer, who was with him, asked my 
address, in case he should have to write me, indicating his 
desire to sell them for me. After such opinions from such 
men, what is outside criticism ? Yet, in spite of myself and 
my own convictions, I feel humiliated. 

"It has become so much the fashion to abuse me in the 
Press, that my best friends now occasionally talk in the same 
way. I have lost all pleasure and hope in my profession. 

" William has gone to the Exhibition, and I made arrange- 
ments to go to Aldershot with Leech ; but all this anxiety, 
however much I try to dispel it, destroys my peace of mind, 
and I have a bad headache. Everybody bothers me too 
about living in the North, and says I have cut all my 
original friends, and will inevitably lose their interest. I 
candidly confess I never had such a trying time in my life. 
I would not care a farthing if I were a bachelor, but for 
your sake I cannot take such injustice calmly. It is a 
strange and unexpected end to all my labour, and I can only 
hope it will not affect you overmuch." 

"May loth. Many happy returns of the day, my darling. 
I have just returned from Cambridge, where I met Mrs. 
Jones, of Pantglass, the duke's enchantress. She made 
many inquiries about you, and sent her best love. She is 
most amusing, and I talked with her all the evening. She 
is a very handsome woman, with a fine figure, and got up 
most gorgeously. I was made much of by the Cambridge 
men. Ruskin's pamphlet is out, and White says it is favour- 
able, although stating that the pictures are painted in my 
worst manner. How extraordinary the fate of these pictures 
has been ! Never have pictures been more mobbed, but 
now the crowds mostly abuse them, following the mass of 
criticism ; yet the fuss they are making in a way makes 
up for the abuse. No words can express the curious envy 
and hatred these works have brought to light. Some of the 
papers, I believe, have been so violent that for two days 
together they have poured forth such abuse as was never 
equalled in the annals of criticism. My works are not 
understood by the men who set themselves up as judges. 


Only when I am dead wi// they know their worth. I could 
not believe in such wanton cruelty as has been shown to me 
this year. There is no doubt that the critics have ruined 
the sale, for all who would have come forward now say that 
the nuns and grave are miserable to look at, and the apple- 
blossoms full of ugliness. Let me, however, assure you that 
they must win their way to the front in time. 

" The country is blooming everywhere now, and everything 
is happy. It is dreadful to be away from you so long. I am 
so glad to hear the children are well. I wish I could embrace 
them all ; it would be delightful after all this vexation. Fate 
seems determined to make my profession hateful to me." 

Needless to say how welcome at such a time was the 
hearty support of the few members of the Academy and 
artist friends who refused to join in the cabal against him 
and his works, prominent amongst whom were Hunt, 
Landseer, Leech, Thackeray, Reade, and the two Rossettis. 
Amongst outsiders, too, were many sympathising friends, 
whose kind words and letters helped him to take heart again 
even in the darkest hours when oppression had well-nigh 
driven him to despair. 

Amongst these was his friend Mr. Lloyd, from whose 
letter I venture to quote a few memorable words. He 
says : " I merely wish, by writing to you, to protest on 
behalf of myself and many friends against the injustice of 
the London critics, and to assure you that whenever I have 
discussed your picture ['The Vale of Rest'] with persons 
whose opinions are deservedly valued, I have found them 
nearly as enthusiastic admirers of it as myself. Some, too, 
agree with me that it is not only your greatest work, but 
that it by far excels in truthfulness, in rendering, and in 
nobleness of conception any picture exhibited within my 
recollection on the Royal Academy walls by any other 
artist. That you will live to see its merits more publicly 
acknowledged I have little doubt, and I sincerely hope that 
the ingratitude and prejudice of those who presume to 
dictate to the public what to admire will not induce you 
to disbelieve that there are thousands to whom your paint- 
ings are a great intellectual pleasure, and that the gradual 
liberation of the public mind from conventional rules will 
bring thousands more to the shrine hallowed by yourself and 
those of your brother artists who boldly and conscientiously 
pursue the path of truth." 


Returning now to Millais' own letters, I find : 
"May \$tk. -There is a decided improvement in the look 
of things. Gambart writes me a long letter, and I have a 
commission for a picture from New York. I am perfectly 
certain that there will be a reaction in my favour, sooner 
or later, as the abuse has been so violent. I wish I could 
afford to keep the pictures, as I am perfectly sure they will 
one day fetch very large sums. There is no chance of my 
selling my pictures to gentlemen the dealers are too strong. 


Picture-buyers can barter with them when they cannot with 
the artist, and my pictures have remained unsold so long 
that no one will believe that they are valuable. All the 
other pictures of any pretensions in the Exhibition are sold. 
This is, of course, fearfully dispiriting, and a matter of 
wonder to me, as I have a high reputation ; but my de- 
tractors have really induced the public to believe that the 
faults in my pictures spoil all the beauties. The crowds, 
too, round the pictures increase, but I am too much dis- 
gusted to think more about them. If 1 sell them, I will 
wipe the memory of them for ever from my mind, they 
have been such torments to me." 

At last the star of hope appeared on the horizon, in a 
quarter where it was least expected. The picture-dealers 

' 859] 



began to come round, making timid inquiries as to prices ; 
and one of them actually bought "The Vale of Rest." 
Commissions, too, came in, and the whole aspect of affairs 
was suddenly changed. The effect of all this upon Millais 
will be seen in the two following letters, written, it will be 
noticed, on two con- 
secutive days. 

"May i6t/i. Cheer 
up ! Things are quietly 
coming round. Already 
there is quite another 
aspect of affairs. W. is 
to give me a decided 
answer whether or not 
a client of his will have 
' The Nuns.' There is 
a demand also for the 
small picture, and G. 
wants to have the copy- 
right, and is to let me 
know to-morrow morn- 
ing whether he will have 
the picture. Indeed, 
now I haven't a doubt 
that I shall sell all three.* 
So much for the brutal 
criticisms ! The fact is, 
I shall have my own 
way after all. If dealers 
give my prices they 
must make twenty per 
cent, on them. 

" Last evening I was 
dining at the Prinseps', 
and Watts quite cheered me. He says they will live for ever, 
and will soon find their proper place. 1 1 will be a great triumph 
in the end. The curious part of it is that ' The Orchard ' is 
considerably more popular than ' The Nuns,' and much more 
crowded. Hunt and Rossetti are wild about the latter. One 

* "The Vale of Rest," bought by Mr. Windus, of Tottenham, through W. the 
dealer, for 700 guineas, \vas afterwards sold to Mr. Tate for ^3000. It now hangs 
in the Tate Gallery, and is by common consent regarded as one of the artist's 
greatest pictures. 



sees now how abuse can create attraction ! I have just 
been to G. to sign the last forty prints of ' The Order of 
Release.' He tells me that 'The Royalist' had done well 
for him, and you will remember how fearfully it was abused 
when exhibited. X. [a dealer] begs me to paint the 
' Petrarch and Laura,' and the dealers all look rather sheepish 
in asking me what I want for the pictures, being evidently 
afraid of one another, and yet not liking to appear too eager." 

"May ijf/i. I enclose X.'s letter, which you will under- 
stand. Whatever I do, no matter how successful, it will 
always be the same story. ' Why don't you give us the 
Huguenot again?' Yet I will be bound the cunning fellow 
is looking forward to engraving this very picture. You see 
he says at the end of his note he will ' risque ' engraving it if 
I like ! 

" I have now enough commissions to last me all next year, 
so I am quite happy. I am so glad to hear you are getting 
well and strong again. That is better than all the sales of 

On May 2ist he went to meet his wife at Birmingham, 
and brought her back with him to Kingston, where, after all 
the excitement of this year, he was glad to have a quiet time 
while working away at his small commissions. 

Before saying good-bye to " The Vale of Rest," let me 
quote the words of Frances Low, who has admirably caught 
the spirit of its teaching: "Who that has ever seen this 
picture forgets the wondrous sunset light that lingers, with 
a thousand evanescent hues, over the evening face of Nature, 
transforming and transfiguring decay, death itself, into a radiant 
golden vision ? The spell of the figure is deepened by the 
dramatic face of the nun, whose deep, mysterious, and in- 
scrutable eyes seem to reflect the spirit of inanimate Nature, 
with its unsurpassed loveliness and terror, and bid the 
troubled human soul seek its answer there." 

At the end of June my mother went North again, to make 
ready for her husband's coming to a house near Bowerswell, 
called Potter Hill, which they had taken for the autumn ; and 
there he wrote to her : 

"July 2oth. ' The Knight ' [' Sir Isumbras '] leaves by 
carrier to-day, and I go up to town with a little sketch of it 
for White, and ' The Bridesmaid ' for Gambart. What do 
you think ? I have nearly finished one of the heads from 
Miss Eyre, and by staying another week I shall manage to 

i8 59 ] LETTERS TO HIS WIFE 349 

do the other. I shall love to see you again, and to get home. 
. . . Yesterday I dined with Colonel Challoner at the mess 
a very nice old boy indeed, and rather like what poor old 
Captain Lempriere was. 

" I have managed everything satisfactorily. William is to 
bring ' The Vale of Rest ' and ' James' Love ' [' The Love 
of James I. of Scotland'] to Perth with him immediately 
after the close of the Royal Academy on the 3Oth, when 
'The Orchard' goes to Liverpool. In 'The Vale' I have 
just to make the nun's face a little prettier ; must give also a 
few touches to 'James' Love.' Then William will return with 
the pictures, taking one to Windus and the other to Gambart. 
I could not well touch the nun's face without a look at Mrs. 
Paton [the woman who sat for the figure]. 

" I am working very hard, considering the heat of the 
weather. Miss Eyre (the younger one) is waiting for me to 
paint her. She makes a most lovely picture, and it is ad- 
mired more than anything I have ever done of the kind." 

The autumn holiday followed, and then, greatly refreshed, 
Millais returned to town, intent on finding a home there for 
himself and his family. From his old quarters in Langham 
Chambers, to which he now went back, he wrote to my mother: 

"November ijtk, 1859. Yesterday I dined at the Garrick, 
and was with Gambart driving about all day looking for a 

house. Saw three, but all dampish and too near Mr. G 

and a lot of the artistic crew whom I do not wish to know, 
so I will look in healthier localities. Napoleon's old house, 
where his loves resided, is not to be let for any term under 
seven years, which is of course out of the question for us. 
White is delighted with the sketch, and says that ' The 
Orchard ' is certain to sell this winter. There was an election 
of two Royal Academicians yesterday at the Academy, the 
choice being the last-made Associate, Phillip, and one Smirke, 
an unknown architect or sculptor, I really don't know which. 

" I happened to be dining last night next to Roberts and 
Stansfield, who would not be persuaded to believe my state- 
ment that I was not aware that it was election night, which 
was perfectly true. Both Stansfield and Roberts voted for 
Phillip, and I believe I hadn't a vote at all. So you see it is 
pretty well as I have always told you, but it is really a matter 
of entire indifference to me, as my position is as good as any 
except Landseer's ; and this they too well know. All the 
petty insults they can heap on me they will. 


" After dining at the Garrick I went to the Cosmopolitan, 
and there met Morier [Sir Robert Morier, afterwards our 
Minister at St. Petersburg], who was just going away to 
Berlin. He did not know me, and took me for Leighton, so 
I have been taken twice for him of late. There must be a 
likeness between us. Charley Collins is writing a novel, 
which is already advertised. Gambart is making strenuous 
efforts to get ' The Rescue ' to engrave. He has sold both 
'James' Love' and 'The Girl on the Terrace,' so you see 
he does not want for immediate profit on my work." 

"The Black Brunswicker," one of Millais' most successful 
pictures, was now in his mind. In his next letter he gives 
his first idea of the way in which the subject should be 

"November \*&th.- Yesterday I dined with Leech, who had 
a small dinner-party. Mrs. Dickens was there, also Mr. and 
Mrs. Dallas, whom you remember, and Billy Russell (the 
Times correspondent) and his wife. Shirley Brooks and 
myself were the rest of the party. We had some very 
interesting stories and gossip from Billy Russell, which would 
delight you all. I will keep them for you when we meet. 
Oddly enough, he touched upon the subject of the picture I 
am going to paint, and I asked him to clear up for me one or 
two things connected with it. He is a capital fellow, and is 
going to write me a long letter with correct information, 
which he can get. I told him my project (as it was abso- 
lutely necessary), but he promised to keep it secret, knowing 
how things are pirated. It was very fortunate, my meeting 
him, as he is the very best man for military information. My 
subject appears to me, too, most fortunate, and Russell thinks 
it first-rate. It is connected with the Brunswick Cavalry at 

" ' Brunswickers ' they were called, and were composed 
of the best gentlemen in Germany. They wore a black 
uniform with death's head and cross-bones, and gave and 
received no quarter. They were nearly annihilated, but 
performed prodigies of valour. It is with respect to their 
having worn crape on their arms in token of mourning that 
I require some information ; and as it will be a perfect 
pendant to 'The Huguenot,' I intend making the sweetheart 
of a young soldier sewing it round his arm, and vainly sup- 
plicating him to keep from the bugle-call to arms. / have 
it all in my mind's eye, and feel confident that it will be a 

By permission of H. Graves and Son 


prodigious success. The costume and incident are so power- 
ful that I am astonished it has never been touched upon 
before. Russell was quite struck with it, and he is the best 
man for knowing the public taste. Nothing could be kinder 
than his interest, and he is to set about getting all the infor- 
mation that is required. 

" I sat next Mrs. Dickens, who desired her best remem- 
brances to you, and hopes you will call and bring the children 
to see her. 

" To-morrow I am going shooting with Lewis in Kent. 
I have made up my mind not to live in town, but out in 
the Kingston direction, as all the houses I have seen here 
appear dirty and damp. White, too, thinks it would be 
decidedly better for me to be out of the way of cliques. 
I will draw in my picture [' The Black Brunswicker '] here. 
White confesses to me that, with the exception of Landseer 
and myself, there is not an artist whose pictures are safe 
to sell. Most men get a fictitious value placed on their 
works, and ruin themselves by producing too much. Their 
pictures are for sale every month. I am glad to think that 
when mine sell they are placed permanently." 

In the spring of 1860 they took a nice house at the corner 
of Bryanstone Square, where he went on with his work 
on " The Black Brunswicker." And thereby hangs a tale. 
Miss Kate Dickens (Charles Dickens' daughter, now Mrs. 
Perugini) sat for the lady a handsome girl, with a particularly 
sweet expression and beautiful auburn hair that contrasted 
well with the sheen of her white satin dress. The picture 
had not long been finished before the figure was claimed 
by more than one of the celebrities of the day ; while, as 
to the Brunswicker, no less than five or six distinguished 
officers were said to have sat for it ; but the fact is that my 
father, wishing to obtain the handsomest model he could, 
went, on the invitation of his friend the Colonel of the 
ist Life Guards, to inspect the regiment on parade at 
Albany Street Barracks, and there he found the very 
man he wanted in a private soldier a splendid type of 
masculine beauty and having, after great difficulty, obtained 
the uniform of a Black Brunswicker, he dressed him in it 
and painted his portrait. The poor fellow (I forget his 
name) died of consumption in the following year. 

The curious in such matters may like to know how the 
figures posed. I may say, therefore, that the two models 

I.-2 3 


never sat together. "The Black Brunswicker" * clasped a 
lay-figure to his breast, while the fair lady leant on the bosom 
of a man of wood. 

The work was sold to M. Gambart for one thousand 
guineas. It took a long time to paint, and my father was so 
pleased with it that he afterwards did a replica in oils, which 
is now in the possession of the family. 

Mrs. Perugini has kindly favoured me with the following 
note of her experience as a sitter for this picture : 

" I made your father's acquaintance when I was quite a 
young girl. Very soon after our first meeting he wrote to 
my father, asking him to allow me to sit to him for a head 
in one of the pictures he was then painting, ' The Black 
Brunswicker.' My father consenting, I used to go to your 
mother and father's house, somewhere in the North of 
London, accompanied by an old lady, a friend of your 
family. I was very shy and quiet in those days, and during 
the ' sittings ' I was only too glad to leave the conversation 
to be carried on by your father and his old friend ; but I 
soon grew to be interested in your father's extraordinary 
vivacity, and the keenness and delight he took in discussing 
books, plays, and music, and sometimes painting but he 
always spoke less of pictures than of anything else and 
these sittings, to which I had looked forward with a certain 
amount of dread and dislike, became so pleasant to me that 
I was heartily sorry when they came to an end and my 
presence was no more required in his studio. 

"As I stood upon my ' throne/ listening attentively to 
everything that passed, I noticed one day that your father 
was much more silent than usual, that he was very restless, 
and a little sharp in his manner when he asked me to turn my 
head this way or that. Either my face or his brush seemed 
to be out of order, and he could not get on. At last, turning 
impatiently to his old friend, he exclaimed, ' Come and tell 
me what 's wrong here, I can't see any more, I Ve got blind 
over it.' She laughingly excused herself, saying she was no 
judge, and wouldn't be of any use, upon which he turned 
to me. ' Do you come down, my dear, and tell me,' he said. 
As he was quite grave and very impatient, there was nothing 

* "A gentleman came into his studio, and seeing his famous picture of the 
4 Black Brunswicker,' asked, 'What uniform is that?' Millais, who had been at 
great trouble and expense to procure the exact costume, replied, 'The Black 
Brunswicker.' 'Oh, indeed,' said the visitor; ' I knew it was one of the volunteers, 
but I wasn't sure which regiment." The Memories of Dean Hole. 


for it but to descend from my throne and take my place 
beside him. As I did so I happened to notice a slight 
exaggeration in something I saw upon his canvas, and told 
him of it. Instantly, and greatly to my dismay, he took 
up a rag and wiped out the whole of the head, turning at the 
same time triumphantly to his old friend. ' There ! that 's 
what I always say ; a fresh eye can see everything in a 
moment, and an artist should ask a stranger to come in and 
look at his work, every day of his life. There ! get back to 
your place, my dear, and we '11 begin all over again ! ' ' 

As the time approached for the opening of the Royal 
Academy Exhibition, 1860, great was the curiosity amongst 
those who had seen "The Black Brunswicker "* as to the 
view the Press would take of it, after the furious onslaught 
they had made on the artist's previous works. The remark- 
able success of these works, in spite of all their sneers and 
taunts, would hardly, it was thought, encourage them to 
renew the attack ; but that they would give it a word of 
welcome was not to be expected, good as the picture was, 
and however much it might be admired. 

And now, when it appeared on the Academy walls, the 
public hailed it enthusiastically as one of the greatest gems 
of the Exhibition ; but, with few exceptions, the Press, 
apparently willing to wound, but yet afraid to strike, re- 
viewed it in the most ungracious spirit. To Millais, how- 
ever, these anonymous criticisms had ceased to be of any 
moment. Confident in his own powers, and in full assurance 
of success after the victory of previous years, he now found 
renewed pleasure in his work, and never spared himself in 
perfecting to the best of his ability whatever he had in hand, 
whether oil-paintings or black-and-white drawings for the 
magazines, then in great request. Of this year's letters 
I have few beyond those written to his wife immediately 
before and after the opening of the Academy. 

'' April 27 th, 1860. The Leslie dinner was most agree- 
able. The company there Duke of Argyle, Lord and 
Lady Spencer, Lady Wharncliffe, Sir E. Landseer, Mulready, 
and myself. I went home afterwards with Sir Edwin, and 
spent some four hours in conversation over brandy and 
water. Yesterday Frere's dinner was delightful. To-morrow 

* The picture occupied three months in painting. The success caused the artist 
to make an exact copy of the original. This, however, was never quite finished, 
and is now in the possession of the family. 


I go to the Royal Academy to touch up. Hunt's picture 
seems to be doing well as an exhibition." 

"May 2nd. I write this from Martineau's, where I have 
just seen Hunt and Val Prinsep. All yesterday I was at 
the Royal Academy, and in the evening I had such a bad 
headache that I was obliged to return and go to bed early. 
I am, however, all right this morning. I found the woman 
in 'The Black Brunswicker' looking much better than I had 
hoped, and I very much improved her. The whole picture is 
by far the most satisfactory work I ever sent there. Every- 
one has expressed the same opinion ; its success is certain. 
I met Tom Taylor at the Cosmopolitan with your father, and 
he said he had heard nothing but ' dead good' of it." 

After commenting on some other Academy pictures, he 
continues : " The fact is, the Royal Academy is the only 
place for a man to find his real level. All the defects come 
out so clearly that no private puffing is w r orth a farthing. 
You cannot thrust pictures down people's throats." 

"May $rd. You seem to see much more than we do here. 
I have seen no criticism on Hunt's picture [Holman Hunt 
was having a private exhibition of his work, which was very 
successful], and have only heard of one in the Illustrated 
London News. The Times hasn't noticed it yet. I read 
what it said of 'The Black Brunswicker,' which was flippant, 
and not at all hearty in praise ; moreover, it reads the story 
wrong.* The Athencsum is all right, but as it is written 
by a friend [F. G. Stephens] it is not surprising. That the 
picture is a great success there is no doubt. 

" I was at the Royal Academy this morning, but did not 
go when the public were admitted. Cooke (Royal Academy) 
asked me to dine with him at the Academy Club dinner at 
Greenwich, the annual feast. Although I accepted, I was 
obliged to excuse myself, for I met Dalziel yesterday, and 
he said I must give him the ' Framley ' illustration on Wed- 
nesday, so I have returned from the Academy to design 
it. Cooke was evidently much vexed, and some of the 
Royal Academicians seem to think I wish to avoid them, 
they are so suspicious of me. I could not help it, however, 
and they must think what they like. Yesterday I went to 

* Millais meant the incident to be taking place on the eve of Waterloo or 
Quatre Bras, June, 1815, at which battle the leader of the Black Brunswickers, 
the Duke of Brunswick, was killed. The young Prussian is supposed to be 
saying good-bye to an English girl. 


Arden's with Gambart, who, in my presence, offered more 
than once to buy from him ' The Rescue ' [the picture of 
the fireman] for ^"2000! Fancy that ! / received ^^Q for 
it. Gambart appears to be in the best spirits, and anxious 
to have everything I am doing. He says if I will let him 
have my pictures to exhibit separately from the Royal 
Academy, he will give me as much again for them ; it 
would be worth his while. Arden is very anxious to have 
'The Black Brunswicker,' and I am to paint a duplicate 
the same size directly it comes from the Academy. 

" I must now go and read Framley Parsonage, and try 
and get something out of it for my drawing. The dinner 
was very grand, and many of the blue ribbon swells were 
introduced to me, and asked whether the Times reading 
was correct. My picture certainly looks most satisfactory. 
There is nothing in the Exhibition to attract but Landseer's, 
Phillip's, and mine. 1 will try and leave this place on 
Thursday or Friday. This is a long letter, but I have 
lots to tell you when I come. So glad the children are well 
and your mother progressing. Keep yourself quite happy, 
for we have every reason to be thankful this year." 

'''May 4///, 1860. I write this from Barwell's, after having 
been for about two minutes at the private view. That sight 
is always so sickening to me that I cannot stand it. I saw 
Gambart, and dine with him this evening. I think I told 
you Windus has sold 'The Huguenot' to Miller, of Preston, 
for over a thousand (White told me as much). Hunt's 
exhibition is a tremendous success, and I believe Gambart 
is to give him ^5000 for his picture. The public are much 
taken with the miniature- like finish and the religious 
character of the subject. The Royal Academy are tre- 
mendously jealous of the success of the picture, and his 
pocketing such a sum ; but he has been seven years at it, 
and he says it has cost him ^2000 painting it. He hasn't 
earned a farthing all that time. I saw Watts' fresco in 
Lincoln's-inn Hall this morning, and it is magnificent by 
far the best thing of the kind in the kingdom. . . . To- 
morrow is the dinner at the Royal Academy, and next week 
I hope to get to work at the blocks for the parables and the 
Cornhill. I will come very soon, and will then get on with 
' The Poacher's Wife ' and other work." 

" Aitgust I4//2. I have finished all my work except the 
parables, which I can do in the North. Bradbury and 


Evans want to buy my woodcut services, and I see them 
with Leech to-day at one. I will not bind myself in any- 
way. At the same time, if they make me a thoroughly 
good offer, it is worth considering. Leech says he thinks 
they would give me ^500 a year if I could regularly supply 
them ; but this has to be considered, as I cannot let illustra- 
tion interfere with my painting. It is pleasant to hear of 
my wood drawings rising to so much value. . . ." 

Down to this time his black-and-white drawings, of which 

O ' 

he made many, principally for contemporary literature, were 
done on boxwood, and destroyed in the process of cutting-in. 
Happily, however, the highly-finished illustrations, of which 
he did a large number in 1853 anc ^ *he three following years, 
were drawn on paper in pen and ink, and finished in sepia- 
wash or body colour ; so most of these drawings are still left 
in their original state, instead of being cut to pieces and 
ruined by the barbarians of the wood-cutting art. 

Truly the wood-cutters of that day had much to answer 
for. Except, perhaps, Swain, Dalziel, and John Thompson 
(who cut the Tennyson blocks) not one of them had the 
faintest conception of how r to retain the beautiful and delicate 
lines of the original drawings ; and even the best work of 
these experts would make the hair of the engravers of 
Harper s Magazine stand on end nowadays. 

The black-and-white artists of to-day have their drawings 
reproduced by various processes, which leave little to be 
desired ; but if they could see, as I have done, some of my 
father's wood blocks before and after the drawings had been 
cut upon, they would indeed feel how much their predecessors 
had to suffer even more, perhaps, than the old Celt of 
historic fame, who exclaimed, as he held his head in church 
on Sabbath morning, after "a nicht wi' Burns," " Puir auld 
Scotland, ye 're sons are sair afflicted, whiles." 

The choicest of my father's black-and-white drawings have 
never been seen by any but the family. I am therefore all 
the more glad to give some of them here, reproduced by our 
best modern processes. Very few people have any idea of the 
labour and care that he expended on these drawings. Each 
one of them w r as to him a carefully thought-out picture, worthy 
of the best work that he could put into it ; and I think it will 
be seen from the specimens here given that he did not over- 
estimate the value of the art. He maintained, indeed, that the 
few men quite at the top of the tree, both in line and wash, 


were entitled to rank with the best exponents of oil and water- 
colour ; and if he had lived I feel quite sure that, with his keen 
desire to encourage true Art, in whatever form displayed, we 
should in time see workers in black-and-white admitted as freely 
to the honours of the Academy as are the line-engravers. 

Few and far between are those who could ever hope to 
achieve this distinction, but I have no hesitation in saying 
that infinitely better Art is to be found in Harpers Magazine, 
the Cent2iry, Scribners, our Art magazines, and the best illus- 
trated books of the day (and now and then in the Graphic 
and the Illustrated London News] than in one-half the pic- 
tures that hang on the walls of the Royal Academy and other 
Art galleries. 

Look at the drawings of such men as Phil May, Caton 
Woodville, C. D. Gibson, E. A. Abbey, Alfred Parsons, 
Frederick Remington, E. Smedley, Reginald Cleaver, 
Archibald Thorburn, John Gulich, D. Hatherell, Frank 
Brangwyn, and half a dozen others of similar standing. 
Many of these are supremely excellent as works of Art ; and 
yet they are not only unrecognised by the powers that be, 
but go for nothing in the market by comparison with hun- 
dreds of old engravings that have nothing but their antiquity 
and their rarity to recommend them. And why ? Simply 
because they are not in fashion. No recognised connoisseur 
of Art has taken up black-and-white work with a view to a 
collection ; and since few men dare to trust to their own 
judgment as buyers of Art works, fashion (too often but a 
passing phase of ignorance and vulgarity) controls the 
market. It may be said, perhaps, that as a black-and-white 
artist myself I am disposed to overrate the value of this 
class of work. My answer is that I have said here only 
what I have so often heard from my father a man who 
touched every branch of the painter's art, who succeeded in 
all, and who knew the difficulties and relative values of each. 

In 1860 he made a whole series of drawings for Anthony 
Trollope's novel Framley Parsonage drawings afterwards 
sold to Mr. Plint, the dealer who, years before, had bought 
his "Christ in the House of His Parents"- besides illustra- 
tions for the Cornhill Magazine, and a considerable amount 
of w r ork for Bradbury and Evans. And from this time 
onwards, down to 1869, he was chiefly engaged in black- 
and-white work and water-colour drawings, under commis- 
sions from various publishers and picture dealers, including 


Hurst and Blackett, Chapman and Hall, Bradbury and 
Evans, Smith and Elder, Dalziel Brothers, and Gambart. 
He also did a little work for the Illustrated London News 
and drawings for Punch, one of which is referred to in 
the last chapter, the works illustrated by him during this 
period including Trollope's novel, Orley Farm, and occasional 
numbers of the Cornhill Magazine, Good Words, London 
Society, etc. 

The money he received for these drawings was but a 
nominal recompense for the labour bestowed upon them ; for, 
unless perfectly satisfied with the finished production, he 
would tear it up at once, even if he had spent whole days 
upon it, scamped work in any shape being an abomination 
in his eyes. It was a constant source of lament to him that, 
under the pressure of monetary needs, even first-rate men 
were sometimes compelled to turn out more work than they 
could possibly do with credit to themselves. He would 
notice this now and then in the illustrated literature of the 
day, and out would come the remark, " Another poor devil 
gone wrong for the sake of a few sovereigns ! " 

He himself liked the w r ork as an occasional change from 


oils ; but knowing how little the pencil could make by com- 
parison with the brush, he refused to be drawn into regular 
magazine work, which (not altogether without reason) Marie 
Corelli stigmatises as "the slough of despond." His best 
work of this sort, and one of the best examples of wood- 
cutting, were to be seen in the series of drawings represent- 
ing "The Parables of our Lord." They were engraved by 
the brothers Dalziel, and he made replicas of them in water- 
colour for a window that he afterwards presented to Kinnoull 
parish church in memory of my late brother George to my 
mind one of the most beautiful windows in Great Britain. 
All the backgrounds to the parables were drawn from 
Nature at or around Bowerswell, and many of the landscapes 
can be easily recognised, having altered little since 1862. 

During this time, too, he seems to have done a great 
number of water-colours, most of them being either copies 
of, or designs for, his larger works. For these there was a 
constant demand, and the dealers worried him into painting 
no less than seven or eight water-colour replicas of " The 
Black Brunswicker " and "The Huguenot." He also made 
one or more copies of "The Ransom," " My First Sermon," 
"My Second Sermon," "The Minuet," "The Vale of Rest," 




"Sir Isumbras," and "Swallow, Swallow, Flying South," 
nearly all of which were bought by either Gambart or 
Agnew. Indeed, if a complete collection of his water- 
colour and black-and-white works at this period could be got 
together, they would make, I venture to think, almost as 
interesting an exhibition as that of 1897, in which scarcely 
one of them was included. 

In 1860 he took the shooting of Kincraig, Inverness-shire, 


Used by Millais in his background of "James" Love" 

along with his friend Colonel Aitkin, and after some hesita- 
tion (as expressed in the following letter to his wife) he threw 
aside his work in the month of August, and hastened to join 
his friend in the North. 

"Aug^lst ijt/i, 1860. I write this amongst a great gather- 
ing of men and ladies, one of whom is at this moment 
singing most beautifully. Mr. Mitchell (the clergyman who 
married William) is here, and Arnold and his wife. Miss 
Power is also here, and sings charmingly. Mrs. Cobb, too, 


and her husband, in rifle-corps uniform, fresh from drill. The 
ladies are all working at needlework whilst the music is going 
on, and as I cannot talk I employ myself in writing. Arthur 
Coleridge brought his wife here this afternoon, and she 

o o 

appears to be quite charming. 

" I have just received yours, enclosing Aitkin's letter. 
I don't know but what I may yet come straight up to the 
shooting, and bring the copy I am working at, as I can 
finish it anywhere for the matter of that. I don't mean to 
say I would paint at the shooting-lodge, but would finish it 
afterwards at Bowerswell. I feel certain that no other man 
in my position would neglect his holiday ; so, instead of 
grinding on, I shall have a fling at that place. The house 
appears roomy, and you could go with me. I am sick of 
hearing of everybody going to his shooting. No one would 
enjoy it more than I, instead of having to stick to this 
beastly copying [' The Black Brunswicker '].... I feel 
a good deal better to-day, hearing of the sport that Aitkin 
is having. Please send me the ' Framley ' manuscript, as I 
want to get all these drawings done and out of my hands." 

He took his holiday, and then, returning to Bowerswell, he 
worked hard at "The Poacher's Wife" and "The Ransom,"' 
and in the spring of 1861 he went back to town, where he 
had engaged rooms at 130, Piccadilly, with a studio attached. 
From there he wrote to my mother : 

"May 2jtk, 1861. I am sorry to hear that your mother 
is so ill. . . . Monckton Milnes came just now with a friend. 
He was charmed with the picture [' The Ransom '], and says 
that Stirling, of Keir, should have it ; he himself is so 
enchanted with it that he will probably have it himself. 
I had a very pleasant dinner at the Leslies', Lady Water- 
ford, Lady Mills, and many others there. On Wednesday 
I go to Epsom, to see the Derby, with Joseph Jopling [an 
artist and intimate friend]. 

" On Saturday I went to Tattersall's, to see the betting- 
room and paddock, where I saw, among others, some friends 
of yours. Young S - [a boy from Perth, who had just 
come into a little money], with his betting-book in his hand, 
was quite surprised to see me there and, I thought, dis- 
concerted, by the way he hurried off. Poor young fool, he 
will certainly bring about a speedy smash in such society 
as I saw him being with Lord S , men with millions, 
and the sharpest rogues in the world. 

.86i] RETURNS TO TOWN 363 

"Jopling is staying with friends in the country, so I do 
not see much of him. I am alone here all day, and only 
occasionally disturbed by callers. . . . Yesterday I went to 
Thackeray's house at Kensington, and it is beautiful ; and. 
in the evening, after the Leslies, I went to the Cosmopolitan, 
and got home very, very late or rather early. Fortunately, 
with all this dining out, I feel in the best of condition and 

He had now bought No. 7, Cornwall Place, South Ken- 
sington, which, when remodelled under the direction of his 
architect, Mr. Freake, he used as the town house of himself 
and his family from the winter of 1862 to 1878, when they 
finally took possession of the large house that he built at 
Palace Gate. 

"May 2&t/t, 1 86 1. Sir Coutts Lindsay, Lady Somers, 
and Mrs. Dairy mple have just been here, and were in 
ecstasies about the picture. Although I ask a big price 
for it, which the dealers are trying to beat down, I shall 
not give way an inch, as they are certain to resell it imme- 
diately to some nobleman's collection, and make an immense 
profit by it. Last evening I dined with Lord Lansdowne. 
We had a delightful dinner : everything most magnificent. 
The beautiful Lady Waterford was there, and I had a long 
talk with her. She is rather handsomer than when I saw 
her seven years ago a little stouter, and certainly the noblest- 
looking woman I ever saw. She is coming to see my picture,, 
but returns to her castle in Northumberland immediately. 
She asked after you. General Hamilton, too, who dined 
with us in York Terrace, was there. 

" I went afterwards to Captain Murray's, and to the 
Alhambra to see Leotard, a French gymnast, who flies 
through the air from swinging ropes very extraordinary. 
To-morrow is the Derby, and to-day I have been working 
most successfullv, having nearlv finished the other illustra- 

*- ' o ^ 

tion for Hurst and Blackett one of the ' Orley Farm' 
ones and the fourth one for Mr. Plint. My model, Miss 
Beale, was sitting until Sir Coutts Lindsay and his party 
came, and held in her arms a baby, which I had borrowed! 
I have heard nothing from Freake ; but the studio is pro- 

" Dalziel was here yesterday, and very anxious to get me 
to finish the drawings of the parables by next year for the 
great exhibition, and I of course promised to do my best." 

3 6 4 



" May $oth. Yesterday morning, before going to the 
Derby, I called to see Lady Waterford and her drawings. 
She was so pleased, I think, for I found her drawings 
magnificent, so I could praise honestly. She was very kind 
and nice, and begged particularly to be remembered to you. 

"Yesterday at the Derby was the usual crowd and dust; 


but I only got a small headache this time, and slept it 
-off in an hour or so, after which I got up and went to 
Lewis's Club, where he gave Jopling and myself something 
to eat. After that we went to Cremorne. One striking 
fact which greatly astonished me was the absence of in- 
toxication. I never saw one man or woman drunk the 
whole day, and must have passed thousands upon thousands 
of people ; nor did I see a single row either at the race- 

i86i] "THE RANSOM" 365 

course or the gardens, to which almost the whole company 
came straight from the course. The gardens were beau- 
tifully lit up with thousands of lamps, and the night was 
warm and lovely. Then there was dancing on the green- 
sward of course, amongst a certain class. Two splendid 
bands of music, and eating and drinking in every direction ; 
yet not a single person drunk. I am very fresh this morning, 
and going on with the ' Orley Farm ' illustrations. Jopling, 
too, is up, and beautiful in summer array. Last night, of 
course, I saw everybody, from every place I know Perth 
men from their regiments, Stirling of Keir, Monckton 
Milnes, Leech, Thackeray, William, Jue (his wife), and the 
Hoares. . . . 

" This evening I spend quietly with Dalziel, to look over 
proofs and talk the parables over, and on Saturday I 
have promised to go to Kingston and see my people, and 
perhaps row up the river, as they propose a picnic." 

"June 6t/i, 1861. Flint has just been here and bought 
the picture of Mrs. Aitkin and John Lindsay, and I have 
promised to paint a small oil for him of Lucy Roberts. 

Flint gave X ^1150 for 'The Black Brunswicker,'* 

and some time ago gave him ^1000 for 'The Royalist/ 
So muck for X - telling me that he had lost by me! Now, 
when he comes, I will say nothing to lead him to suppose 
that I know all about it ; but it puts me on my guard for the 

'The Ransom," however (his big picture), was not sold; 
so he went to Bowerswell at the beginning of August, and 
had some pleasant days' trout-fishing at Loch Leven with 
Leech and John Anderson, the minister of Kinnoull. 

Before closing this chapter it is necessary to say a few 
words about ''The Ransom" and its subsequent history. 
Commenced with "Trust Me" in the autumn of 1860, the 
picture was not completed till the spring of 1862. The 
subject is that of the detention of two maidens who had been 
captured during the Middle Ages. The girls are seen in the 
act of returning to their father, a black-bearded knight, who 
in turn has to present gold and gems for their release. The 
costumes in this picture were most carefully studied. " Most 
of them," says my mother, " were made by me, and I designed 
them from a book on costume lent by Lady Eastlake." She 

* When first sold to a dealer "The Black Brunswicker " fetched ^816. In 
May, 1898, it was sold by the executors of the late James Renton for .2,650. 


then gives a few particulars as to the background and models. 
"The tapestry was the last part which was painted. It was 
done in the unfinished portion of the South Kensington 
Museum, where Mr. Smith, the decorator, hung it in position 
for the artist. Millais had great trouble with the knight. 
The head was taken from his friend Major Boothby, who 
gave him many sittings ; but at the last moment he con- 
sidered the expression unsuitable, and so called in the services 
of a Mr. Miller. The figure of the knight he drew from 
a gigantic railway guard, appropriately named ' Strong,' who 
was afterwards crushed to death in Perth Station. The page 
was a handsome youth named Reid, and Major McBean, 
9 2nd Highlanders, and a labourer sat for the guards. Both 
the girls were painted from one model, Miss Helen Petrie." 



A holiday in Sutherlandshire " The Eve of St. Agnes " Comfortless surround- 
ings Death of Thackeray His funeral " My First Sermon " Pictures of 
1863 Paints Tom Taylor's son Letter from Tom Taylor " Esther " 
Gordon's yellow jacket "The Romans Leaving Britain" Letter from Anne 
Thackeray Ritchie "Waking" In Scotland with Sir William Harcourt and 
Mr. Reginald Cholmondeley Meeting with Dr. Livingstone Livingstone in 
pursuit of salmon Millais goes abroad with his wife, Sir William Harcourt, 
and Sir Henry Layard He buys Michael Angelo's " Leda and the Swan " 
Memorable evening at "Villa Spence" Adelina Patti as a dancer Makes the 
acquaintance of Liszt They travel with Mario " Waking" The Callander 
shootings Amusing letter from Sir William Harcourt Letter to William 
Fenn A deer drive in Glen Artney. 

rHE autumn of 1861 was spent in Sutherlandshire, 
where, as I gather from his letters, Millais found great 
enjoyment while fishing and shooting along with his friend 
" Mike" Halliclay. In August of that year they were staying 
at Lairg, from which he writes to my mother : 

" We dined on Sunday at Rose Hall, and enjoyed it 
immensely ; they were so kind. Lord and Lady Delamere 
were there, and he is a capital fellow. In the evening, after 
dinner, we drew blindfolded several subjects, and the result 
was absurd, as you may imagine. We cline here again next 
Sunday. Both Holford and his wife were most kind, and 
expressed great regret that they could not give us beds. 
Yesterday Mike and I shot all the day, but the ground is 
very inferior to Kincraig. Poor little man, he couldn't walk 
the hillsides, and was done up so completely that he couldn't 
shoot a bit. Halliday only shot three brace, which made in 
all seventeen brace and a half, all of which, by Mr. Holford's 
orders, is left to us. I send away a box to you, and another 
to Kingston." 

In another letter he says : 

" I am almost sorry I sent you the grilse yesterday, for I 
killed a fine sajmon this morning, iclbs. weight. I hooked 



it when far away from anyone, and had the fish on for more 
than half an hour without being able to make anybody hear 
my shouting. At last Mike caught sight of me waving my 
bonnet, and came to my assistance with the gaff, and after 
playing the fish until it was quite done, he succeeded in 
securing it. It was a beautiful clean salmon (not grilse) just 
up from the salt water. It struggled awfully, and took me 
down the river in the most gallant way. We have just 
returned from diining with the Holfords, who are indefatg- 
able in their kindness and attention. I never experienced 
such unaffected kindness, and Mike finds the same. Poor 

little chap, he hasn't even risen a fish at all yet, except 


The letter winds up with an injunction to practise croquet, 
which was all the rage just then. 

The later autumn days and the following winter were 
mainly devoted to painting "The Woman Looking for the Lost 
Piece of Money " showing a female figure in the moonlight 
holding a lighted candle, with which she searches the floor. 
The picture unhappily came to an untimely end, but an 
engraving of it (made before it left the artist's hands) gives 
some idea of the striking effects of mingled moonlight and 
candle-light as depicted. In 1862 Millais gave the picture to 
Baron Marochetti in exchange for a marble bust of my 
mother by this famous sculptor, and one day the gas meter 
in the Baron's house in Onslow Square exploded, and the 
picture (frame and all) was shot through the window into the 
street, and completely destroyed. 

During the spring of 1862 he was hard at work on a 
portrait of Mr. Puxley, a hunting squire, and the little picture 
of " The White Cockade," in which a Highland lady is seen 
attaching the white badge of the Jacobites to her lover's 
cocked hat. My mother sat for this picture, and an excellent 
portrait of her at that time is preserved there. A Scotch 
friend, hearing by chance of the subject of the painting, was 
good enough to present her with one of the original cockades 
worn in the bonnets of Prince Charlie's followers a badge 
now extremely rare. 

The summer of this year was an exceedingly busy one for 
the artist. He did an immense quantity of work for London 
Society, Messrs. Smith, Elder, and Co., Macmillan, Chapman 
and Hall, Sampson Low and Co., Dalziel, and Bradbury and 
Evans, and something too for the Illustrated London News. 

" SWALLOW ! SWALLOW ! " 1864 

From the water-colour in possession of Mrs. Stibbard 

By permission of Sir John Kelk 

I. 2 4 


In the Academy he exhibited "The Ransom" (sometimes 
called "The Hostage"), "Trust Me," "The Parable of the 
Lost Piece of Money," and " Mrs. Charles Freeman." 

August was now at hand, and with a light heart he fled 
away to his beloved Scotland, where he had taken care to 
secure beforehand what promised to afford excellent sport. 
First of all he went to the Helmsdale, the fishing of 
which he and his friend, Colonel Cholmondely, had taken 
for that month. There, however, the fates favoured the fish 
rather than the fishermen, and at the end of the month 
he moved on to Inveran Inn, near Tain, where Mike 
Halliday and he had part of the river Shin for the month 
of September. Here another disappointment awaited him 
as to the fishing ; but his letters show that in other respects 
the holiday was an enjoyable one. Writing to my mother 
on September 2nd, he says : - 

11 1 arrived here yesterday morning at half-past five, and 
travelled all night, never getting a wink of sleep. However, 
when I had had a tub I felt all right. There was no 
bed for me anyhow. Brandreth was here, and left this 
morning with his wife, who came up from Dunrobin. He 
is a most kind fellow took me out shooting all yesterday, 
and the result will come to you in the shape of a box 
of grouse. Mike took Mr. B.'s gun in the evening, and 
we got ten more brace, which made it a good day. 
Mr. B. has given me all his part of the river to fish in, 
besides the right to shoot with Mike on a moor fifteen 
or sixteen miles away from here ; also to take three days 
on the moor immediately adjoining this inn, where we killed 
the birds yesterday. It is very fortunate, as the fishing 
is very bad this year. I went out last evening after the 
shooting, and only rose one fish. . . . The Cholmondelys 
were very sorry at my leaving, and were most kind. You 
may expect to see him in Perth about the i^th. Brandreth 
also gave me a magnificent salmon-rod insisted on my 
taking it and supplied us with a lot of lights and tobacco. 
Leech is not here yet. Have you heard of him? The 
river is too low here now, strange to say, and last year 
it was too 

Towards the end of the season he took up his quarters 
at Bovverswell ; and with a view to the well-known picture, 


" My First Sermon," my sister Effie, then a child of five 
years, was selected as the model. She also sat two years 
later for the companion picture of " My Second Sermon," 
and from that time onwards all the children in turn were 
enlisted as models for different pictures. 

Later on in the autumn of 1862 some lines in Keats' 
beautiful poem, "The Eve of St. Agnes," caught the fancy 
of the artist, inviting him to illustrate them on canvas ; 
and this he determined to do at once. 

" Full on this casement shone the wintry moon, 
And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast. 

* * * * * 

Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees ; 

Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one ; 

Loosens her fragrant bodice ; by degrees 

Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees : 

Half-hidden, like a mermaid in seaweed, 

Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees 

In fancy fair St. Agnes in her bed, 

But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled." 

But where was a suitable background to be found ? The 
picture, as conceived by the artist, demanded an interior 
such as was not to be seen in Scotland, so far as he 
knew ; but in the historic mansion of Knole Park was a 
room well known to him, and exactly suited to his pur- 
pose. So, coming South rather earlier than usual this 
year, he and my mother betook themselves to Sevenoaks, 
where, at a wayside hostelry, they remained throughout 

Knole was close by a large house, tenanted by an old 
caretaker and, except the floor (then covered with modern 
parquetry), this wonderful old room had undergone no 
change whatever since the time of James I. The old 
furniture and fittings of solid silver were still there, the same 
old tapestry adorned the walls, and a death-like stillness 
pervaded the apartment "a silence that might be felt" 
at the midnight hour when the moonlight was streaming 
in through the window and no fire was burning on the 
hearth. And yet that was the time when the picture must 
be painted that and a few hours later otherwise the exact 
direction of the moonbeams falling on the figure could not 
be caught. No wonder, then, that my father, though by 
no means a nervous man, was sensible of a high state of 

1 862] 



tension while sitting- at his work for three nights in succes- 

i ^ 

sion amidst such weird and comfortless surroundings. My 
mother, too for she it was who sat for the figure was 
similarly affected, while her discomfort during those weary 
hours may be readily imagined. Think of the slender 
garments in which the figure is draped, the bodice unlaced, 
the room unheated ; and this in the depth of winter ! No 
wonder that she was accustomed to speak of it afterwards 
as the severest task she ever under- 
took. But the reward came at last, 
making amends for all it cost to win 
it. The painter caught the spirit of 
the poet, and embodied it in his 
canvas. The finishing- touches were 


done at Cromwell Place,* with the 
aid of a professional model, Miss 

My mother says in her notes : 
11 This picture was marvellously 
quickly executed. After three days 
and a half at Knole and two days 
more at home, the work was com- 
plete, and highly finished. The 
magnificent bed represented was 
that in which King James I. slept. 
It cost ^"3000, and the coverlet 
was a mass of gold thread and 
silver applique gimp and lace ; the 
sheets were white silk, and the mattresses of padded cotton 

" Millais' fingers got numb with the cold, but there was no 
time to be lost, as the private view day was drawing near. 
When we got back from Knole the figure of Madeline had 
to be altered ; and when the work was exhibited the public 
thought the woman ugly, thin, and stiff. ' I cannot bear that 
woman with the gridiron,' said Frank Grant (Sir Francis 
Grant, P.R.A.), alluding to the vivid streams of moonlight on 
the floor ; and Tom Taylor said, " Where on earth did you 
get that scraggy model, Millais ?' ' 

* Millais lit up his canvas with a bull's-eye lantern when painting this subject 
in London. He found that the light from even a full moon was not strong 
enough to throw, through a stained glass window, perceptible colour on any 
object, as Keats had supposed and described in his poem. 



The picture, after passing successively through the hands 
of Mr. Charles Lucas and Mr. Leyland, is now in the 
possession of Mr. Val Prinsep, R.A. It was seen by Art 
lovers on the walls of South Kensington, and was amongst 
the works in the recent "Millais Exhibition" at Burlington 

An appreciative letter from Val Prinsep is of interest as 
showing what artists thought of this work. Writing to 
Millais he says : 

"It was a great pleasure to me, my dear old chap, to be 
able to purchase your picture. There is not an artist who 
has failed to urge me to do so. For the profession's sake I 
am glad your picture is in the hands of one of the craft, for 
it is essentially a painter's picture. After all, what do the 
public and the critics know about the matter? Nothing! 
The worst is, they think they do, and hence comes the 
success of many a commonplace work and the comparative 
neglect of what is full of genius. I Ve got the genius bit, 
and am delighted. " Yours ever, 


No sooner was it finished than, in execution of a com- 
mission from Mr. Marley, of Regent's Park, the artist set 
to work on a portrait of Mr. Henry Manners, now Marquis 
of Granby. Other pictures, too, followed in quick succession, 
notably "Suspense," "The Bridesmaid throwing the Lucky 
Slipper," and " The Wolf's Den," the last-named showing 
portraits of all the artist's elder children. 

For the rest, the year (1863) was one of mingled joy and 
sorrow. In September my brother Geoffroy was born ; but 
a few months later the sudden death of Thackeray, the 
bright and genial novelist, cast a deep gloom over the 
household, both my father and mother being devotedly 
attached to him. They had noticed with distress his failing 
health and loss of appetite, when dining with them shortly 
before their annual migration to the North ; but neither of 
them ever dreamt that this was the last time that they and 
he would meet. In a letter to my mother on Christmas 
Day my father wrote : 

" I am sure you will be dreadfully shocked, as I was, at 
the loss of poor Thackeray. I imagine, and hope truly, 
you will have heard of it before this reaches you. He was 
found dead by his servant in the morning, and of course the 


whole house is in a state of the utmost confusion and pain. 
They first sent to Charlie Collins and his wife, who went 
immediately, and have been almost constantly there ever 
since. I sent this morning to know how the mother and 
girls were, and called myself this afternoon ; and they are 
suffering terribly, as you might expect. He was found lying 
back, with his arms over his head, as though in great pain. 
I shall hear more, of course. Everyone I meet is affected 
by his death. Nothing else is spoken of." 

And again, three days later : 

" I go to-morrow with Walker, Prinsep, and Theodore 
Martin, to poor Thackeray's funeral Kensal Green Ceme- 
tery ; half-past twelve. I send every day to ask after the 
mother and girls. They are dreadfully broken by the 

"My model is waiting, so I must leave off now. I made 
a beautiful little drawing of Lady Edwards' baby lying in the 
bassinet. Of course I had to idealise somewhat, as there 
was a look of pain in the face. 

" I had five men dining with me last night, and the 
conversation was entirely about the loss we have all sus- 
tained. Cayley, Doyle, Prinsep, Martineau, and Jopling 
were the party." 

In another letter, on December 3ist, he added : 

" I went yesterday to the funeral, in Theodore Martin's 
carriage. It was a mournful scene, and badly managed. A 
crowd of women were there from curiosity, I suppose 
dressed in all colours ; and round the grave scarlet and 
blue feathers shone out prominently ! Indeed, the true 
mourners and friends could not get near, and intimate 
friends who were present had to be hustled into their places 
during the ceremony of interment. We all, of course, 
followed from the chapel, and by that time the grave was 
surrounded. There was a great lack of what is called 
' high society,' which I was surpried--at: None of that 
class, of whom he knew so many, were present. The 
painters were nearly all there more even than the literary 
men. The review of his life and works you sent me is 
quite beautiful just what it ought to be I suppose by Dr. 
John Brown, who was a great friend." 

" My First Sermon " was exhibited this year in the 
Academy, and at the Academy banquet on May 3rd, when 
(according to a newspaper report now before me) the 


Archbishop of Canterbury, in a graceful speech, referred to 
it as follows : 

" Still, Art has, and ever will have, a high and noble 
mission to fulfil. That man, I think, is little to be envied 
who can pass through these rooms and go forth without 
being in some sense a better and a happier man ; if at 
least it be so (as I do believe it to be) that we feel our- 
selves the better and the happier when our hearts are 
enlarged as we sympathise with the joys and the sorrows 
of our fellow-men, faithfully delineated on the canvas ; when 
our spirits are touched by the playfulness, the innocence, the 
purity, and may I not add (pointing to Millais' picture of 
' My First Sermon') the piety of childhood." 

This little picture of Efifie* was extremely popular. The 
artist himself was so pleased with it that, before going North 
in August of that year, he made an oil copy of it, doing the 
work from start to finish in two days ! A truly marvellous 
achievement, considering that the copy displayed almost the 
same high finish as the original ; but in those two days he 
worked incessantly from morning to night, never even break- 
ing off for lunch in the middle of the day. Well might he 
say, as he did in a letter to my mother, " I never did any- 
thing in my life so well or so quickly." The copy was sold 
as soon as it was finished, and I see from an entry in my 
mother's book that he received ^180 for it. 

He was now, so far as I can judge, at the summit of his 
powers in point of both physical strength and technical skill, 
the force and rapidity of his execution being simply amazing. 

Leaving my mother at Bowerswell early in January, 1864, 
he returned to town, where, soon after his arrival, John 
Leech came to see him. As an old and intimate friend of 
Thackeray. Leech was distressed beyond measure by his 
death. He should never get over it, he said ; and a month 
or two later his words gained a painful significance by his 
own death from heart disease. My father was constantly with 
him during the last stage of this terrible complaint, and never 
ceased to lament the loss of his old friend and companion. 

This year proved to be most prolific of all in point of work. 
Writing to my mother on January i$th, he said : 

" I will come and look out for a background for ' Moses.' 

* "My First" and "My Second Sermon" were both painted in the old church 
at Kingston-on-Thames, where Millais' parents resided. The old high-backed 
pews had not then been removed. 

i86 4 ] "MY SECOND SERMON" 379 

I am just going to begin Effie sleeping in the pew. It is 
very dark, but enough light for drawing. Have done both 
'Arabian Nights' drawings, and another (two since you left) 
illustration for Good Words. I missed my train to Trollope 
on Sunday, and had to take a hansom all the way to 
Waltham two hours there, and two back, but I got there 
in time for dinner. 

" Hablot Brown is illustrating his new serial. Chapman is 
publishing it, and he is not pleased with the illustrating, and 
proposed to me to take it off his hands, but I declined. 
Messrs. C. and H. gave him so much more for his novel that 
they wished to save in the illustrations, and now Trollope is 
desirous of foregoing his extra price to have it done by me." 

" Effle sleeping in the pew" was, as indicated above, the 
subject of " My Second Sermon," in which, the novelty of 
the situation having worn off, the child is seen fast asleep, 
being overcome by the heat of the church, and probably by 
the soporific influence of the pulpit. The Archbishop of 
Canterbury referred also to this work in his speech at the 
Academy banquet in 1865. According to the newspapers of 
the period his words were : 

" I would say for myself that I always desire to derive 
profit as well as pleasure from my visits to these rooms. On 
the present occasion I have learnt a very wholesome lesson, 
which may be usefully studied, not by myself alone, but by 
those of my right reverend brethren also who surround me. 
I see a little lady there (pointing to Mr. Millais' picture of a 
child asleep in church, entitled ' My Second Sermon '), who, 
though all unconscious whom she has been addressing, and 
the homily she has been reading to us during the last three 
hours, has in truth, by the eloquence of her silent slumber, 
given us a warning of the evil of lengtJiy sermons and drowsy 
discourses. Sorry indeed should I be to disturb that sweet 
and peaceful slumber, but I beg that when she does awake 
she may be informed who they are who have pointed the 
moral of her story, have drawn the true inference from the 
change that has passed over her since she has heard her 
'first sermon,' and have resolved to profit by the lecture 
she has thus delivered to them." 

"Leisure Hours," a picture combining the portraits of 
Mr. John Fender's two daughters, was next taken up. Then 
came "Charlie is My Darling," a picture for which Lady 
Pallisser sat, and to which a little romance is attached. Whilst 

3 8o 



Millais was at work on this picture Sir William Pallisser 
visited the studio, where he was much struck with the face of 
the lady as portrayed. 

He begged for and obtained an 

By permission of H, Grai'cs and Son 

introduction, and afterwards falling deeply in love with one 
another, she became Lady Pallisser. That work, too, was 
exhibited this year, and is now in the possession of an old 
friend of my father's, Mr. James Reiss. An illustration in 

o ^ 

a s 

p^ -S 

5 ^ 

- -^ 


oils of Tennyson's charming " Swallow, Swallow, Flying 
South," was also in hand now, for which my mother's sister, 
Alice Gray (now Mrs. Stibbard) sat ; but the picture, though 
finished in time for the Academy, was not exhibited till the 
following year. 

A portrait of Harold, son of the Dowager Countess of 
Winchelsea, was also painted this year, and satisfied with the 
work already done, Millais went off in July to the Helmsdale 
to try his luck once more as a fisherman. Of his life there, 
and the sport he met with, I have unfortunately no record, 
as, my mother being with him, no letters passed between 

It was in the late autumn of 1864 that the artist completed 
an excellent portrait of Wyclif Taylor, son of his friend Tom 
Taylor, of P^u^ck fame a portrait that seems to have given 
great satisfaction to the parents. 

From J^om Taylor. 


" December 2jth, 1864. 

" MY DEAR MILLAIS, I cannot allow the day to pass 
without thanking you for your beautiful portrait of our boy. 
It is an exquisite picture of a child, and a perfect likeness. 
Both his mother and myself feel that you have given us a 
quite inimitable treasure, which, long years hence, will enable 
us to recall what our boy was at the age when childhood is 
loveliest and finest. Should we lose him which Heaven 
avert the picture will be more precious still. 

" It seems to us the sweetest picture of a child even you 
have painted. If you would like to have it exhibited, I need 
not say it is at your service for the purpose. 

" With renewed thanks, and all the best wishes of the 
season for you and yours, 

" Believe me, ever gratefully yours, 


" P.S. I send you my Christmas gift in return, however 
inadequate. The . . . Ballad Book, which owes so much to 
your pencil." 

I have suggested that in point of technical skill Millais 
attained the zenith of his power in 1864, but the fact is too 
plain to be overlooked, that 1865 marked a distinct advance 


in the direction of larger and more important pictures, and 
greater breadth of treatment. His first picture this year was 
" The Evil One Sowing Tares " ; and then came " Esther " 
and " The Romans Leaving Britain," both of which present 
a fulness of power and facility of expression such as he had 
never before displayed, and this too without any sacrifice of 
the high finish that characterised his earlier works. In these 
pictures he seems to have accomplished with a single dash of 
the brush effects that, in former years, he attained only by 
hours of hard work. 

Miss Susan Ann Mackenzie, sister of Sir Alexander 
Mackenzie, sat for the principal figure in " Esther." 

A lady kindly furnishes me with the following note : 

"The robe thrown over the shoulders of 'Esther' was 
General Gordon's 'Yellow Jacket.'* In this 'Yellow Jacket' 
General Gordon sat to Valentine Prinsep, R.A., for the 
portrait for the Royal Engineers' mess-room at Chatham. 
Millais so admired this splendid piece of brocade that he 
dressed Miss Muir Mackenzie in it, but turning it inside out, 
so as to have broader masses of colour. With her fine hair 
unbound, and a royal crown in her hand, she sat for ' Queen 
Esther.' The picture was bought from a dealer by my 
husband, and it has since passed to Mr. Alex. Henderson 
with the rest of his collection." 

Millais was painting Miss Mackenzie's head when the 
Yellow Jacket was brought in, and, as he draped it on her, 
he said : " There ! That is my idea of Queen Esther ; you 
must let me paint you like that." 

The subject of " The Romans leaving Britain " is one 
which had always had a great attraction for Millais. We 
see here, as Mr. Stephens says, " the parting between a 
Roman legionary and his British mistress. They are placed 
on a cliff-path overlooking the sea, where a large galley 
is waiting for the soldier. He kneels at the woman's feet, 
with his arms clasped about her body ; his face, though 
unhelmeted, is hidden from us in her breast ; her hands are 
upon his shoulders, and she looks steadfastly, with a 
passionate, eager, savage stare upon the melancholy waste 
of the grey and restless sea." 

* At che end of the Taeping Rebellion, and when Gordon gave up the command 
of the ' ever-victorious army,' the Chinese Government tried to offer him rewards. 
He would take nothing but the rank of Ti-Tu, or Field Marshal, and the 'rare 
and high dignity of the Yellow Jacket.'" Boui.GER's Life of Gordon, vol. i. p. 122. 

i86 5 ] "WAKING" 385 

The sentiment and pathos of this picture were much 
admired, and soon after the close of the Exhibition (1865) 
Millais received the following interesting letter from Miss 
Anne Thackeray, daughter of the novelist before referred 
to, written from the home of the Tennysons at Freshwater, 
Isle of Wight : - 

" I thought of you one day last week when we took a 
walk with Tennyson and came to some cliffs, a sweep of 
sand, and the sea ; and I almost expected to see poor 
Boadicea up on the cliff, with her passionate eyes. I heard 
Mr. Watts and Mr. Prinsep looking for her somewhere else, 
but I am sure mine was on the cliff. Mr. Watts has been 
painting Hallam and Lionel Tennyson. We hear him when 
we wake, playing his fiddle in the early morning. They are 
all so kind to us that we do not know how to be grateful 
enough. We have had all sorts of stray folk. Jowett and 
the Dean of Christchurch, and cousins without number. It 
has been very pleasant and sunshiny, and we feel as if 
we should like to live on here in lodgings all the rest of our 
lives. Last night ' King Alfred' read out ' Maude.' It was 
like beautiful harmonious thunder and lightning. ... I 
cannot help longing to know the fate of ' Esther' .... after 
she went in through the curtains." 

The daughter of Scott Russell (the engineer of the Great 
Eastern} sat for the British maiden " Boadicea," and the 
picture ultimately became the property of Sir Lowthian Bell. 
The background was painted down at Truro in Cornwall, 
where for a week Millais was the guest of Bishop Phillpotts 
at Porthwidden. 

At this time he had some idea of painting one of the 
closing scenes in the life of Mary Queen of Scots, and with 
a view to this he exchanged several letters with Froude, 
the historian, who kindly gave him all the information in 
his power. His letters, however, went to prove that the 
incident the artist had in mind had no foundation in fact, 
so the idea was at once abandoned. 

In July he commenced the picture known as "Waking" 
a portrait of my sister Mary sitting up in bed and was 
getting well on with it when his little model showed 
signs of illness that compelled him to leave off for a time. 
It was finished, however, later on, and is now in the col- 
lection of Mr. Holbrook Gaskell. A bed, with all its 
accessories, is not commonly a thing of beauty, but in this 


case the artist made it so, the high finish of the still-life 
adding greatly to the general effect. Writing to my mother 
on the 2Qth of this month, he says : " I am working very 
hard. Have commenced the duplicates of ' Esther,' and 
commence the Romans to-dav. ' loan of Arc' is ofone, and 

J J O 

I am hourly expecting Agnew to send for Alice [' Swallow, 
Swallow ']." 

On August 12th he and his friend Reginald Cholmondeley 
went off to the North this time to Argyle, where Sir 
William Harcourt had taken a shooting called Dalhenna, 
amongst the lovely hills near Inverary. The great leader 
of the Liberals proved a most admirable host, and main 
are the good stories told of the jovial times the three friends 
had together. How Millais enjoyed it may be gathered 
from the following letters to his wife, all dated in August, 
1866. In the first he says : 

" Harcourt and I shot twenty-three brace yesterday in a 
frightful sun, and enjoyed the day very much. Cholmondeley 
is not well (knocked up by the heat), so he didn't accom- 
pany us. H. is sending all the birds to England, and we 
don't like to have birds for ourselves. The cuisine is like 
that of a good club. His cook is here and manservant, 
and the comfort is great altogether delightful and the 
grapes and peaches were thoroughly appreciated. The 
Duke and Duchess of Sutherland left yesterday. She 
looked so pretty at luncheon on Sunday. We have a great 
deal of laughing. To-day we are going to fish in Loch 
Fyne for Lyt/ie, which afford good sport ; and to-morrow 
we shoot again. Cholmondeley has his keeper and dogs 
with him. H. has a kilted keeper of his own, besides the 
ponies for the hill with saddlebags. We are going to visit 
the islands in a yacht, as the rivers are too dry for fishing 

" I have been unusually well since coming here, and very 
merry. Lord Lome is a very nice pleasant fellow, and 
all the family are kindly, and as soon as the Duke returns 
we are to dine there. Our cottage is such a pretty spot- 
roses and convolvulus and honeysuckle over the porch, and 
a swallow feeding her young within reach of our hands." 

Of these Dalhenna days Millais loved to recall an amusing 
incident, the hero being one of the three shooters, who shall 
be nameless. One evening during a casual stroll about the 
domain, the sportsman spied a magnificent "horned beast" 


grazing peacefully on their little hill. In the gloaming it 
loomed up as a stag of fine proportions ; and without pausing 
to examine it through a glass, he rushed into the house, and, 
seizing a rifle, advanced upon his quarry with all the stealth 
and cunning of an accomplished stalker. The crucial moment 
came at last. His finger was on the trigger, and the death 
of the animal a certainty, when a raucous Highland voice 
bellowed in his ear, " Ye 're no gaen to shute the meenister's 
goat, are ye ? " Tableau ! 

In a second letter to my mother he says : " Harcourt is 
having a new grate put into his kitchen, to soften his cook. 
We have come in the dog-cart here for the day, taking boat 
at Cladich and leaving it almost immediately in terror, 
from the unsafeness of the boat in heavy waves. We walked 
on here, and H. at once let go a storm of invective against 
the landlady and the waiter, both being so supremely in- 
different about our custom, that we had great difficulty in 
assuaging our appetites. After long suffering we obtained 
only very tough chops and herrings. We return to-morrow 
and shoot again on Saturday. To-day we drove through 
what the natives call the ' Duke's policies,' and met the great 
man himself, who was all smiles and politeness. 

" I will return directly the fortnight is out, but not before, 
as H. looks on me as his mainstay in shooting, Cholmon- 
deley not being well and avoiding the heavy work on the 
moor. The weather has been unenclurably hot, but I thrive 
in it, and would be happy but for the midges, which nearly 
destroy all my pleasure. Harcourt is going to make out a 
plan for our tour abroad, as he knows all the parts we intend 
visiting. Outside has been a dreadful boy-German band 
playing for two hours, but now they have left off with ' God 
Save the Queen ' ; while just above us a duet has commenced, 
by two young ladies ' Masaniello.' 

" We have killed comparatively little game, but enough to 
make it pleasant, and I expect plenty of black game. Rabbits 
are abundant, and no one could be more kind and jolly than 

"I like to hear from some of you every day, that you are 
all well ; and after this fling I will return and work like a 
Trojan, before going South. I would like, if possible, to 
paint the firs at Kinnoull as a background, besides the copies." 

In his next letter he describes his meeting with Dr. 
Livingstone, of whom he saw a good deal during the rest 


of his stay at Dalhenna. After this he frequently dined at 
the Castle, and had long and interesting talks with the 
famous explorer, who used in the evening to amuse the 
Duke's children with his wonderful tales of Africa, then a 
terra incognita. 

He writes: "On Eriday we returned to Loch Aw r e, and 
near Inverary found Lord Archibald Campbell and another 
younger brother catching salmon for the amusement of Dr. 
Livingstone, who is at the Castle. We were introduced, and 
I had a chat with the Doctor. They caught salmon in a 
poaching way with lead and hooks attached, which sank 
amongst the imprisoned fish, who are in pools from which 
they cannot get out. The same afternoon the Duchess 
called with a carriage full of pretty children, and asked us to 
dine, which we did after killing twenty-eight brace on the 
hill. There was no one staying at the Castle but Living- 
stone, but the party was large enough, as there are sons and 
tutors in abundance. In the evening we played billiards, and 
at tea drew out the African traveller, who is shy and not very 
communicative. To-morrow we shoot again, and I think of 
returning on Wednesday. The black game shooting com- 
menced yesterday and I killed two, and this week we shall 
beat the low hills for them. ... I am anxious to return now 
and get on with my work ; but having promised to stay a 
fortnight, I stay that time." 

In September he rejoined his family at Bowerswell, and 
after working for a month on "The Minuet" (a picture for 
which my sister Effie posed as the principal figure, my Aunt 
Alice sitting at the piano in the background), he and his wife 
and Sir William Harcourt made a tour on the Continent, 
travelling through Switzerland to Florence, where they were 
fortunate enough to meet their friends Sir Henry Layard and 
Lord and Lady Arthur Russell. Layard, the famous archaeo- 
logist, was born in Florence, and Italy was an open book to 
him. He was, moreover, a most charming companion, and 
under his guidance my father was enabled to see all the best 
Art collections in the city, including the treasures left by the 
Prince Galli, who had recently died. He was the last of his 
race, and had bequeathed all his paintings and pieces of 
sculpture to the hospital of Florence, including the marble 
statue of Leda and the Swan, by Michael Angelo, a work 
of Art which had been in the possession of the Galli family 
for over 300 years. This statue Sir Henry strongly advised 


Millais to buy at any price, saying that, if he did not do so, 
he would buy it himself for his friend Lord Wimborne, 
although he had no commission to do so. It was probably 
the last occasion, he said, on which a genuine work by 
Michael Angelo would be for sale, as the Italian Government 
were then about to put in force an Act prohibiting the removal 
from the country of great and well-known works of Art. 
Millais, therefore, attended the sale and purchased the 
" Leda," which was at once packed and sent off to London. 
A most fortunate thing for him, for the very next day came 
a missive from the Russian Government requesting the 
Italian Government to buy the "Leda" for them at any 
price, and the latter were not too well pleased when they 
heard that it was already on its way to England. 

One evening my father and mother were invited to dine 
with a Mr. Spence at the Villa Spence a house that formerly 
belonged to the Medicis, and is now one of the show places 
in Florence, with its exquisite gardens and wonderful under- 
ground chapel. They did not know whom they were to 
meet, but on arriving there they found amongst the guests 
Mario, Grisi and her three daughters, as well as Adelina 
and Carlotta Patti, and their brother-in-law Strakosch 
altogether a dinner-party of geniuses. But geniuses enjoy 
themselves very much like other people. They told each 
other all the best stories they could think of in connection 
with their public lives, and after dinner Strakosch played, 
and Millais danced nearly the whole evening with Adelina 
Patti, who proved herself almost as good a waltzer as a 
vocalist. They met again at some state function in London 
about a year before his death, when she recalled the happy 
time they had spent that evening at the Villa Spence. 

From Florence, accompanied by their friends, they visited 
Bologna and Venice, where they stayed with Mr. Rawdon 
Brown in his palace on the Grand Canal. Then to Rome, 
where they had to undergo the delights of fumigation by 
sulphur, and were nearly suffocated ; for this was in the days 
of Cardinal Antonelli, when the fear of the plague was at its 
height. Here, as at Florence, Sir Henry Layard again acted 
as their guide to the Art treasures of the city, and Lord Arthur 
Russell took them into the Vatican to see the Pope, Pius IX., 
whom my mother used to describe as a very nice, benevolent- 
looking old gentleman. He was dressed all in white, with a 
black biretta, and acknowledged their salutations as he passed. 


Almost immediately after he had passed out, the Abbe 
Liszt came into the room, and was presented by the British 
Ambassador to my father and mother. Liszt at once struck 
up a conversation with my mother, to the great mortifica- 
tion of her husband, who was most anxious to talk to him, 
but could not speak a word of any other language than his 
own. After bidding good-bye to their friends in Rome, 
Millais and his wife went on alone to Pisa, to see Sir Charles 
Eastlake, P.R.A., who was then on his death-bed. 

Leghorn was now their aim, and after visiting several other 
places on their way, they arrived there at midnight in a way 
they did not anticipate. About ten miles from their destina- 
tion the railway engine broke down, and there w r as nothing 
for it but to finish their journey as they did, in a country cart, 
sitting on the top of their luggage. There, however, they 
had the good luck to fall in with Mario again, who afterwards 
took ship with them for Genoa, where, with the aid of 
despatches, he helped them through the intricacies of the 
custom-house a very real service in those red-tape days. 
The splendid Vandykes of Genoa were an immense pleasure 
to my father, but I never heard him express a wish to see 
any other masterpieces in the foreign galleries except the 
series of pictures by Velasquez in Madrid, for he already 
knew the Paris and Hague galleries, and loathed travelling 
in any form. And now their faces were set towards England, 
home, and duty ; and as there was no railway in those days 
along the Riviera, they took the "diligence" all the way to 
Marseilles and from there home by sea. 

"Sleeping," "Waking," and "The Minuet," the three 
pictures which Millais exhibited in the Royal Academy of 
1867, may certainly be classed amongst the specimens of his 
later Pre-Raphaelite manner, of which the "Vale of Rest" 
was the first example. It would seem, therefore, that just 
for this one year he returned to his old love, before the 
production of his broader works of " Jephtha" and " Rosalind 
and Celia," both commenced in 1867. 

These three pictures were exact portraits of my sisters 
Carrie, Mary, and Effie, and (as I have often heard from 
those who knew them from their infancy) were not idealised 
in the slightest degree. The art of the painter was exercised 
only in seizing upon the beauty of a particular child at a 
certain moment, and transferring it to his canvas. That was 
not idealising, but simply catching the child at its very best. 

"SLEEPING." 1866 
By permission of H. Graves and Son 

.866] A SLEEPY MODEL 395 

None of the three little girls ever enjoyed sitting for their 
portraits. As one of them expressed herself at the time, 
'' It was so horrid, just after breakfast, to be taken upstairs 
and undressed again, to be put to bed in the studio." When 
tired of gazing seraphically upwards she would wait till my 
father was not looking, and then kick all the bedclothes off, 
perhaps just as he was painting a particular fold a trick 
which the artist never seemed to appreciate. The idea for 
" Sleeping " was suggested by seeing my sister Carrie, then 
a very little girl, fast asleep the morning after a children's 
party. Millais went to the nursery to look for the child, 
and found the French maid, Berthe, sewing beside the bed, 
waiting for her charge to wake up ; and when sitting for this 
picture the little model used often to go to sleep in real 

My sister Mary tells the following story about "Waking." 
Being left alone for a few minutes during the painting of this 
picture, she slipped out of bed and crept up to the table 
where the palettes and brushes were left ; and then, taking 
a good brushful of paint and reaching as high as possible, 
proceeded to embellish the lower part of the work with some 
beautiful brown streaks. Presently she heard her father re- 
turning, and bolted back to bed. Foreseeing that in another 
minute he would discover the mischief, she wisely hastened 
to explain that she had tried to help him in his work by 
painting for him the brown floor that she knew he intended. 
Poor Millais turned in a desperate fright to his picture, and 
saw the harm that had been done, but with his characteristic 
sympathy with children he never said a word of reproach to 
little Mary, seeing that she had really meant to help. 

During 1865 and 1866 he made water-colour copies of 
"Ophelia" and "The Huguenot," "The Black Brunswicker," 
"The Minuet," "Swallow, Swallow," and "The Evil One 
Sowing Tares," and copies in oil of "Esther" and "The 
Romans " ; also two oil pictures, one of which was a portrait 
of a Miss Davidson, and the other a small one of Effie as 
" Little Red Riding Hood." 

From Sir William Cunliffe Brooks the shootings of 
Callander and a small part of Glen Artney were taken in 
1866. This was a grouse shooting, but now and then a 
stag came on to the ground. Millais got three, and then 
a fourth made its appearance, and returned again and again 
to the ground one of the grandest stags ever seen in that 


neighbourhood. My father was of course keen for a shot, but 
he happened to know this stag, having spied it on several 
occasions on the borders of the neighbouring forest rented 
by Sir William, and being on most friendly terms with the 
owner, he let it go. Afterwards, in the course of conversa- 
tion, Sir William expressed his anxiety to shoot this particular 
stag, but added (as any true sportsman would), " If he is any- 
where about your march you had better kill him." 

Days went by, and the end of the season was approaching, 
when one evening Millais espied the great stag feeding on 
his ground about fifty yards from the march. Now was his 
chance his last chance of a shot at such a monarch as this. 
He was excited beyond measure, and his stalker was even 
more elated, for (as unfortunately sometimes happens) there 
was intense rivalry and bitterness between him, a man of 
small pretence, and the head stalker at Glen Artney, who was 
a tremendous swell in his own conceit. Then the stalk began, 
and just as the quarry crossed the march a shot from Millais' 
rifle laid him dead. At that moment, to the astonishment of 
my father, who had seen nobody else about, up rose Sir 
William and his stalker, who had been after the same game. 
The stag was therefore carted off to Glen Artney, and Sir 
William being satisfied with my father's explanation, the two 
remained as good friends as ever. 

After slaying this noble hart, he could not refrain from 
exulting over his success in a wild letter to his friend Sir 
William Harcourt, who replied as follows : 

From Sir W. V. Harcourt. 


" October $rd, 1 866. 

" MY DEAR MILLAIS, I received your insane letter, from 
which I gather that you are under the impression that you 
have killed a stag. Poor fellow, I pity your delusion. I 
hope the time is now come when I can break to you the 
painful truth. Your wife, who (as I have always told you) 
alone makes it possible for you to exist, observing how the 
disappointment of your repeated failures was telling on your 
health and on your intellect, arranged with the keepers for 
placing in a proper position a wooden stag constructed like 
that of ... You were conducted unsuspectingly to the spot 
and fired at the dummy. In the excitement of the moment 

1866] DEER-STALKING 397 

you were carried off by the gillie, so that you did not discern 
the cheat, and believed you had really slain a ' hart of grease.' 
Poor fellow, I know better ; and indeed your portrait of the 
stag sitting up smiling, with a head as big as a church door 
on his shoulders, tells its own tale. I give Mrs. M. great 
credit on this, as on all other occasions, for her management 
of you. I am happy to hear that the result of the pious 
fraud has been to restore you to equanimity and comparative 
sanity, and I hope by the time I see you again you may be 
wholly restored. . . . 

" Pray remember me to Mrs. M. 

" Yours ever, 


" I see that, in order to keep up the delusion, puffs of your 
performance have been inserted in all the papers." 

There are some fortunate beings in this world who have 
never missed a stag, and never can or will ; but Millais was 
not one of these. In the following letter to his friend Mr. 
W. W. Fenn (written during his tenancy of Callander), 
he describes faithfully and amusingly the hardships and dis- 
appointments of deer-stalking : 

To Mr. W. W. Fenn. 


" Sunday, October '/tk, 1 866. 

" DEAR FENN, My wife and eldest daughter have gone to 
the Free Kirk ; and that I may do as good a work, I send 
you a line, albeit I am aching in all my limbs from having 
crawled over stony impediments all yesterday, in pursuit of 
ye suspicious stag. You know the position of all-fours which 
fathers assume for the accommodation of their boys, in the 
privacy of domestic life, and you can conceive how unsuitecl 
the hands and knees are to make comfortable progress over 
cutting slate and knobbly flint, and will understand how my 
legs are like unto the pear of over-ripeness. 

" I had two shots, the first of which I ought to have killed, 
and I shall never forget the tail-between-legs dejection of 
that moment when the animal, instead of biting the dust, 
kicked it up viciously into my face. After more pipes and 
whiskey than was good for me, we toiled on again, and a 


second time viewed some deer, and repeated the toilsome 
crawling I have referred to. Enough ! I missed that too, 
and rode home on our pony, which must from my soured 
temper have known it too. I tooled him along, heedless of 
the dangers of the road, until the gladdening lights of home 
flickered through the dining-room window. Mike is not 
a sympathising creature under these circumstances, being 
thoroughly convinced that a cockchafer's shoulder ought to 
be hit flying at a thousand yards ; so, alter the never-failing 
pleasure of the table, I retired, to dream of more stomach 
perambulations up and down precipices of burning plough- 
shares, the demons of the forest laughing at my ineffectual 
efforts to hit the mastodon of the prairies at fifteen yards 
distance. You may depend upon it, roach-fishing in a punt 
is the thing after all. When you don't excite the pity and 
contempt of your keeper, what boots it if you don t strike 
your roach ? (probably naught but the float of porcupine is 
aware of it), but when you proclaim to the mountains, yea, 
even to the tow r ns adjoining thereto, that you have fired at 
the monarch of the glen, how can you face the virgins and 
pipers who come up from the village to crown you with 
bog-myrtle, and exalt your stag's horn through the streets 
rejoicing? Every shot fired in the forest is known to be at 
a stag, or hind, 

'And the shepherd listening, kens well 
That the monarch of the glen, fell, 
Howsomever, if it ends well, 
As happens rarely, 
And the highland laddie breechless, 
Hears the shot, and stands quite speechless, 
Etc., etc., etc.' 

This inspiration comes from ' The Lady of Shalott.' I 
think in my old age I must betake myself to the chase of the 
gaudy butterfly with net of green, gaffing with the domestic 
bodkin. There 's the stag-beetle, anyhow, and the salmon-fly; 
and what can exceed the danger of following the pool-loving 

" All gone to Callander to the kirk and the wife will 
return presently, seriously inclined ; so will I cast off this 
skin of frivolity. You must forgive me for being a boy still, 
and a little wild after yesterday's excitement. Michael returns 
in a day or two, and we shall very shortly leave this for a 
short stay at Perth, and then home to sit under the trophy 

"WAKING." 1866 
By permission of H. Graves and Son 

i866] A DEER DRIVE 401 

of my own antlers. On the whole, the stay here has been 
pleasant, in spite of a nearly perpetual rain, which (distilled 
through peat-bog) has clyed my poor feet a sweet cinnamon 
brown, like the Lascar crossing-sweepers. 

" You will hear from Stephen Lewis his adventures, which 
I believe he will narrate to his customers seated all around 
him in Turkish shawls, in the manner of the 'Arabian Nights.' 

" How Arthur is ever to hold his own after the prowess of 
Stephen remains to be seen ; but I wouldn't be Arthur. A 
strong smell of roast mutton calls me away, and I think your 
mother will have enough work in deciphering this. 

" Remember me very kindly to her, arid tell her, tell her, 
that when I return, I come to thee ! 

''Very sincerely yours, 


" I haven't uncorked a tube or moistened a brush, but I 
hope the hand hasn't lost its cunning." 

At the end of the season my father and mother spent a 
week with Sir William Cunliffe Brooks at Drummond Castle, 
which he rented from Lady Willoughby de Eresby, a place 
which, in point of situation and entourage, has no superior in 
Great Britain ; indeed, it would be impossible to imagine 
more lovely surroundings. The old castle stands on an 
eminence in a park in which all the natural beauties of wood 
and lake are enhanced by floral and arboreal gems from 
foreign lands. Wild fowl of various sorts adorn the lakes, 
.and herds of half-wild fallow-deer roam through the park, 
whilst up in the great wood of Torlum may in autumn be 
heard the voices of the big wood stags. 

The sanctuary in Glen Artney Forest had remained un- 
touched since the visit of the Queen and Prince Consort in 
1845, and now, as the deer were becoming too numerous, 
Sir William decided on a drive. Three rifles were posted on 
a high ridge above the sanctuary, and over a thousand deer 
came up by three separate passes. Six or seven of the best 
were killed, and of the survivors about seven hundred made 
their way into the next corrie, within ten yards of the ladies 
who had gathered there to see what they could of the sport. 
My mother used to describe this as the finest sight of the 
kind she had ever witnessed. 

i. 26 



A great friendship, and a spur to noble ambition Cairo in 1854 The donkey and 
the buffalo A human parallel The Jewish model, a shy bird The difficulties 
and dangers of life in and around Jerusalem in 1854 Adventure at the Brook 
Kerith Reflections on life Millais must put forth all his strength A final 

FROM what has been already said, it will be seen how 
close and intimate was the friendship between Holman 
Hunt and Millais. They were friends together in early 
youth, and together they fought and conquered the Philistines 
in the days when Pre-Raphaelitism was attacked on every 
side; and though for many years (from 1867 to 1880) they 
saw but little of each other, owing to Hunt's long residence 
abroad, they kept up a continuous correspondence, the fol- 
lowing portions of which (interesting from many points of 
view) the writer kindly allows me to embody in these pages. 

It is not for me to sing the praises of this distinguished 
artist, whose works are reverenced of all who know what 
high Art means (I am sure he would not thank me if I did) ; 
but this at least I may say, that no man had ever a firmer or 
a truer friend than my father found in Hunt, and that his 
friendship was reciprocated with equal warmth of heart. 
The fame of the one was ever dear to the other, and as to 
Hunt, so far was he from any sense of jealousy, that he 
never lost an opportunity for urging his friend to put forth 
all his powers whenever any great exhibition was on foot 
either at home or abroad. " The usual Liberal whip," my 
father would playfully remark, when one of these missives 
came by post ; and seldom, if ever, did he fail to respond to 
the appeal. 

The letters proclaim the man letters full of thought, of 
keen but kindly criticism, and enlivened here and there with 
touches of quaint humour ; but, voluminous and interesting as 
they are, I must restrict my selection to the narrowest limits. 




Here are a few extracts from letters during his first visit to 
the East in 1854. 

Writing from Cairo in March of that year, he says : " The 

By permission of J. S. Virtue and Co. 

country is very rich and attractive, but I am inclined to 
mislike it on that account, for I have no patience with the 
Fates when they tempt me to become a paysagiste. The 
Pyramids in themselves are extremely ugly blocks, arranged 


with imposing but unpicturesque taste. Being so close at 
hand, it is difficult to refuse making a sketch of them. With 
some effect and circumstance to satisfy the spectator's expec- 
tation and the charm of past history, it might be possible to 
gather a degree of poetical atmosphere to repay the patience 
one would expend ; but I would rather give the time other- 
wise. Their only association that I value is that Joseph, 
Moses, and Jesus must have looked upon them. There are 
palm trees which attract my passing admiration. Without 
these, in places, one might as well sketch in Hackney Marsh. 
... I find a good deal of difficulty in living in quiet here, 
for there are four or five other Englishmen in the hotel, some 
of them very pleasant fellows ; but I want solitude for my 
work, and it is impossible to feel secluded enough even when 
is away. When he is present, serious devotion to 
thought is often shattered with intolerable and exasperating 
practical jokes, and by his own unbounded risibility at the 
same. ... I hear no news here but what hoarse-throated 
donkeys shout. These loquacious brutes are the only steeds 
one can get here without purchasing a horse, so I do not 
enjoy the luxury of following the hounds as you do. Ap- 
pended you see an example of the ordinary load an ass has 
to carry in this country. They are themselves veritably one 
of the burdens of Cairo. One is never free for a second 
from their wanton braying. W T hen you are talking with a 
friend in the street, or in the bazaar making a bargain, you 
are moved to excusable exasperation fifty times in an hour by 
the spasmodic trumpeting of some donkey who lifts up his 
voice close to the small of your back, or in front of you. In 
face of our hotel there are several animals tied up under the 
trees fastened by the horns and legs. In a particular pen 
there is a small manage of a domestic character, but unfortu- 
nately it is not a happy family, the poor buffalo-cow of the 
party being evidently exhausted with listening to her near 
neighbour the jackass. The cow's original disposition is of 
the utmost and most admirable patience, but even vaccine 
nature has its limits, and our cow, soft-eyed and beautiful as 
she is, cannot refrain from remonstrating when her neigh- 
bour's refrain has been too frequent and (apparently) too 
personal. You should have seen her the other morning. 
She had patiently listened to his complete discourse some 
fifty times ; but w r hen he cleared his throat to give out the 
text once more, she waived her politeness so far as to indicate 


4 5 

that she had heard all that before. The donkey on his part, 
however, persisted. He evidently thought such an excellent 
homily could not be heard too often. Buffalo turned to retire, 
evidently with a different conviction, but her tether checked 
her retreat. She was infuriated at this discovery, and turned 
round upon the braying beast with her butting head, as if 

she would make him swallow 
his words once for all. But 
here the trial came. She could 
not reach him, and so he could 
not be turned from his purpose. 
After a moment's pause he took 
up his broken argument again, 
and in a posture better suited 
to the new position of the re- 
fractory member of his audi- 
ence, until at last he wound up, 
triumphantly glorying in her 
defeat and complete resigna- 
tion. I feel ofttimes like that 
poor cow, and cherish an un- 
disguised hatred of the whole 
braying race." 

"Jerusalem, September $lk, 1854. It is evident that it 
will be impossible to get my present picture done for next 
year. I go every Friday and Saturday and on feast days or 
days of humiliation to the synagogue, to see the Jews 
worship. I also take every opportunity to get introduced to 
them in their homes. They are polite, and I can study their 
characteristic gestures and aspects; but for special attendance 
at my house I can scarcely get them at all. When by the 
exercise of great interest one is brought, he looks about like 
a scared bird, and if he sees any piece of carpentry a window 
sash, or a border of a panel that looks in his suspicious eyes 
like a cross, away he flies, never to come back any more. My 
landlord, a converted Jew, who has journeymen-tailors under 
him, has brought me one or two, but even these get advised 
not to repeat their sittings, and thus my subject-picture is in 
the most unsatisfactory, higgledy-piggledy state, with many 
disjointed bits begun and not completed. The Rabbis keep 
up the bitterness by excommunicating all who come to my 
house, for they suspect me to be a missionary in disguise. . . 
" You could not conceive the possibility of men being so 





fanatical and rancorous as the Fellahs and Arabs of this 
place. The tame men in the city are in a degree polite to 
Europeans (with what degree of sincerity I don't know), but 

By permission of J. S. Virtue and Co. 

out of the gates, away from the shadow of our firm English 
Consul, no Briton would be safe, but for the probability that 
his coat has a good pistol or two in the pockets which he is 
ready to use. With the chance of escaping detection, they 
would shoot anyone for the spoil they might get." 

By permission of Mr. E. M. Denny 



He had proof enough of this at the Brook Kerith, to get 

to which he had to descend a steep cliff 500 feet high : 

'When I was sketching, a shepherd, with a boy of fifteen 

By permission oj J. S. Virtue and Co. 

and three or four others a year or two younger, came and sat 
down beside me. To show them I intended to have my own 
way, I told the man to sit further away on one side and the 


boy on the other. I could not order them away altogether, 
as they greeted me civilly on first arriving, but it was difficult 
to attend to my work, for they required looking after. I had 
laid aside my pistol-case on account of the heat, and in two 
minutes the man had got hold of it and was unfastening the 
button. I clutched it away, and cautioned him that if he 
touched anything of mine again I would send them all away, 
at the same time buckling the weapon round my waist. 
Then, turning my head, I found the younger gentleman with 
his hand in my pocket, upon which 1 reached out, boxed his 
ears, and pushed him aside, and standing up ordered them 
all away. This brought on a hubbub. Seeing that I was 
determined in my course, the man said' they were Arab 
fellaheen, who would not be put off. Would I give them 
some English gunpowder ? No ; I would give nothing. 
' Very well,' he said, ' I will bring down all the fellaheen to 
kill you.' Meanwhile my friend Dr. Sim was lying asleep in 
a cave at some distance, and on looking towards him I saw 
another young Arab, who had crawled into the cave, engaged 
at the opening in examining the articles in his hand with the 
closest possible interest ; so I called out lustily enough to 
wake Sim, and at this point the Arab boy bolted with Sim's 
boots. They all went away then, threatening dreadful things, 
and I set to work again to make up for lost time. In a few 
minutes I heard a furious altercation. . . . Sim was standing 
high on a rock, while the man was crouching down aiming at 
him over a ledge ; but as my companion stood unmoved with 
his gun under his arm while the Arab was dreadfully excited, 
I was not alarmed. It appears that the fellow had ap- 
proached him on his descent, demanding powder, that Sim 
had called him majnoon (madman) and ordered him off. At 
last, Sim closing upon his adversary with his gun cocked, the 
latter moved off to safer quarters." 

The following letter relates to Hunt's third journey to the 
East : 


"October \2th, 1871. 

" MY DEAR MILLAIS, I was very glad to get yours of 
August 2Oth, which came here about three weeks since. 
I should have written since my last, notwithstanding that 
I had had no answer to mine, but I was excessively occupied, 



and always thinking that in another few weeks I should be 
on my road home to England. 

" I was truly sorry to hear of your father's death. . . . 

By permission of J. S. Virtue and Co. 

He was a good old fellow, and associated in my mind 
with all manner of kind and pleasant hospitality, and true, 
generous friendship, and I had hoped to spend many other 


pleasant hours with the dear old boy for he was always 
a boy, and all the better for this. Well, our next chat 
must be in the Elysian Fields, where we shall have lots of 
things to talk about, and where (however soon it may be) he 
will enact the part of old stager, as he did when I first knew 
him in Gower Street ! And what a lot of old chums there will 
be whom, when I left England last, I counted upon smoking 
many mundane pipes with again Halliday, Martineau, 
Phillips, my good brother-in-law George, an old chum and 
fellow-traveller of old here, Beaumont, as well as the boring, 
good-natured . They will coach us as to the course 
we are to take there, and tell us where to find people we 
want to see and know (when it may be allowed to such 
new-comers to be admitted to their society), and whether and 
where our own most sacred ones may be overtaken. 

" Life here wants something to make it bearable. Having 
no 3ort of counter-interest, my work becomes the most 
frightful anxiety to me, and sometimes I am sure I have 
lost a great deal of labour from nursing all manner of fears 
about it. When a notion once gets into my head it goes 
on worrying me until I see everything by its light, and I 
am tempted to change back again. When I began my work 
I had very ambitious hopes about it, but (like Browning's 
man, who in infancy cried for the moon, and in old age was 
grateful for the crutch on which he hobbled out of the world) 
1 should be glad now to find it only done in any way. There 
are peculiar difficulties in the subject I have devoted my time 
to such serious ones that, had I only foreseen them, I would 
have left the subject to some future painter ; but I tried to 
console myself by thinking that other pictures I have in my 
mind to follow will go more easily and be a great deal better. 

" I am like you in loving my Art very intensely now, 
the more it seems that I am denied all other love ; but I 
am reminded of the remark of a little child, who, talking 
about love to her mother, said it pained so. My love for 
Art pains me it hurts me sleeping and waking ; there is 
no rest from it and I, getting old in desponding service, feel 
(quoting Browning again) like 

'Only the page that carols unseen, 

Crumbling your hounds their messes.' 

" If I had my life over again (which ofttimes I should 
crave God for some reasons to spare me) I might (if fools 

By pci mission of Mr. H. Roberts 


could be kept from hindering), out of the raw materials I 
started my days with, make a satisfactory painter ; but this 
life is made so that wisdom and riches come too late. The 
prizes that boyhood sighs for come when toys are no longer 
in request ; those which youth covets are withheld till youth 
is flown ; and so on to the grave. One must continue one's 
journey minus the means and weapons which carelessness 
or over-confidence rejected at one's place of outfit the tale 
of the foolish virgins again, who, in going back, came at 
last too late. One must go on now, trusting that the oil 

O O 

will last to the journey's end, though the lamp may not be 
so brilliant as it should be. The one fact that continually 
perplexes me is how the confidence of .youth carried me 
through difficulties that now quite bring me to a standstill. 
I had no fear then of the distant royalty of my mistress, 
but bit by bit I have learnt the width of the gap between 
us ; and the very sense of her greatness paralyses my hand 
in attempting the simplest service. .It is very imprudent 
to confess all this, for the world will . never believe in any- 
one who does not have unbounded confidence in himself, 
and will, on the contrary, accept any humbug who declares 
himself infallible ; but you are not the ivorld, but an old 
fellow-servant, who knows too well what sincere service is 
to be prejudiced against my work because I confess the 
trouble it gives me. I marvel at men who, like X , 
never see a fault in anything they do, and regard with scorn 
any who venture to suggest an improvement. For the time 
they are enviable, yet I believe there is a degree of self- 
satisfaction which limits a man's powers woefully. . . . 

" I am sorry for William's loss of his child. Give my 
love to him as well as to all your family, and tell Mary I 
shall come and try her at her Catechism soon. 

" Yours ever, 


It will be seen from these letters how interesting was 
Hunt's life in the Holy Land, and how pregnant with thought 
are the graver incidents to which he calls attention. Some 
day, perhaps, he may be tempted to give to the world a full 
record of his life and adventures, which judging from the 
vast mass of correspondence it has been my privilege to read 
could not fail to find acceptance with the public. 


Outside of our own family he was my father's sole con- 
fidant ; nothing was hidden from him, and his letter to my 
brother Everett, in August, 1896, expresses only what we 
all know to be the inmost sentiments of the writer. Refer- 
ring to my father's death, he says : " After fifty-two years of 
unbroken friendship the earthly bond has separated. New 
generations with fresh struggles to engage in ever advance 
and sweep away many of the memories of individual lives, 
even when these have been the most eminent. ... It would 
be a real loss to the world if your father's manly straight- 
forwardness and his fearless sense of honour should ever 
cease to be remembered. There are men w r ho never 
challenge criticism, because they have no sense of individual 
independence. My old friend was different, and he justified 
all his courses by loyalty and consistency as well as courage 
the courage of a true conscience. As a painter of subtle 
perfection, while his works last they will prove the supreme 
character of his genius, and this will show more conspicuously 
when the mere superficial tricksters in Art have fallen to their 
proper level." 



Three historic gatherings The parties at Strawberry Hill Millais' personal 
friends Letters from D'Epine, Luder Barnay, and Jan van Beers Mrs. 
Jopling Rowe's recollections of Millais O'Neil, painter and poet Fred 
Walker Professor Owen Robert Browning Browning on the art of poetry 
Visit to Marochetti. 

A DESULTORY chapter this a thing of shreds and 
patches needful, however, as an introduction to in- 
timate friends of Millais not yet noticed in these pages, and 
interesting perhaps as a reminder of some historic events in 
the lives of others with whom during this period he came 
into contact. 

Three historic gatherings my mother was wont to describe 
as making a great impression on her mind. The first at 
which she and my father were present was at Stafford 
House, where the late Duke of Sutherland gave a grand ball 
in honour of General Garibaldi, who was then on a visit 
to this country. The great soldier, wearing as in Italy the 
red shirt ever since associated with his name, entered the 
ball-room with the Duchess of Sutherland on his arm, and 
was greeted by all present with the homage due to Royalty 
as he passed down the room, stopping here and there for 
a moment's talk with some of the guests. Very striking was 
the expression of his face, at once so earnest and so genial ; 
and still more conspicuous was the contrast between his 
simple dress and the gorgeous array of all the rest of the 

Some time after that came the reception given at the 
Foreign Office to the grandfather of the present Czar of 
Russia, whom my mother described as a very sad and 
dignified-looking man. They had the honour of being pre- 
sented to him, and soon after his return to Russia, for which 
he set out on the following day, the cause of his sadness was 
i. 27 4 i 7 



only too painfully manifested. At a dinner party at Mr. 
Cyril Flower's (now Lord Battersea), at which they were 
present, a telegram from Miss Corrie was handed to one of the 
guests, Lord Rowton, announcing an attack on the life of the 
Czar, whose escape uninjured was little short of miraculous. 
The would-be assassin had placed an infernal machine under 
the floor of the Imperial dining-room, timed to blow up 
immediately after the entrance of the Czar and his suite, which 
always took place at the same hour. It happened, however, 


that Prince Alexander of Bulgaria being late for dinner on 
this particular evening, the Imperial party waited a quarter 
of an hour for him, and during this time the bomb ex- 
ploded, making a complete wreck of the dining-room, but 
happily doing no further injury. It was a doomed life, 
however, that he carried, and he knew it. A year later the 
assassins returned to their ghastly work, and, sad to say, 

The third occasion to which my mother referred was the 
State ball given in honour of the Shah of Persia. The 
Shah, as is well known, has a grand collection of jewels, 
including some of the finest the world has ever seen ; but 
even he must have been astonished by the wondrous display 
of diamonds that met his eyes that night. About 800 tiaras 
were worn by the ladies present, who were, perhaps, not 

"THE MIXUKT." 1866 
By permission o/ H. Graves and Son 


altogether unwilling- to show him what old England could 
do in that way. 

Strawberry Hill, Twickenham,* was one of the most 
interesting places at which, during the seventies, my father 
and mother were privileged guests, and many were the 
pleasant days they spent there. It was then the seat of 
Frances, Countess of Waldegrave, a woman of singular 
beauty and great natural talent, and as the daughter of 
Braham, the famous singer, very proud of her Jewish 
descent. She would say of Lord Beaconsneld, who was a 
constant visitor, " We are both children of Abraham, and 
he will do anything for me." 

Amongst the many Art treasures there was the famous 
picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds of the three Ladies Walde- 
grave ; and the Countess, who was devoted to Art, added 
largely to the collection. She had a long gallery built, which 
she filled with life-size portraits of her most distinguished 

Hers was an eventful life. She was little more than 
sixteen when she married the Earl of Waldegrave, and on 
his death she took for her second husband his half-brother, 
Mr. Waldegrave, who had the misfortune to be arrested 
by mistake for a murderer. He was consigned to the Fleet 
prison, where his wife accompanied him ; but almost imme- 
diately afterwards the real murderer was discovered, and 
he was set at liberty. On his death she married the Right 
Hon. George Vernon Harcourt, and after many years of 
wedlock, he too left her a widow. Another suitor then 
appeared in the person of the Right Hon. Chichester 
Fortescue (Lord Carlingford), whom she ultimately accepted 
as her fourth husband. 

Her Saturday-to-Monday parties were proverbially enjoy- 
able. Rank and talent met and mingled there on equal 
terms of amity and good fellowship. Whoever might or 
might not be there, there would certainly be no dulness in 
that delightful house none of that horrid boredom that 
Society is apparently so fond of inflicting upon itself. 

For mere rank and fashion, however, Millais cared but 
little. Talent and geniality of temperament were the "open 

* Strawberry Hill, one of the most beautiful estates in the vicinity of London, 
was for many years the residence of Horace Walpoje of historic fame. On the 
death of the Countess of Waldegrave it was bought by the late Baron de Stern, 
and is now the property of his son. 


door" to his friendship, and that he found these qualities 
in abundance among his personal friends may be seen from 
the following names of some with whom during the period 
covered by this chapter he was more or less intimately 

Omitting the vast majority of his brother artists for the 
mutual affection that prevailed between him and them will 
be seen later on I note amongst eminent literary men 
Whyte Melville, William Black, George Meredith, Gilbert, 

Pinero, Tom Taylor, Charles 
Reade, Wilkie Collins, Mark 
Twain (Samuel Clemens), Bret 
H arte, Du M aurier, Archdeacon 
Farrar, Hamilton Aide, Rhoda 
Broughton, Henry James, John 
Forster, Matthew Arnold, and 
Robert Browning. 

Amongst the scientific men 

A CAT. Circ. 1860 *? . 

his principal friends w r ere Sir 

Henry Thompson, Sir James Paget, Professor Blackie, and 
Sir Richard Owen. 

Politicians and diplomats included Lord Dufferin, Glad- 
stone, Lord Salisbury, Lord Rosebery, Lord James, Sir 
William Harcourt, and Sir Clare Ford. 

Army and Navy Viscount Wolseley, Sir George Nares, 
and Captain Shaw. 

Musicians Madame Albani, Sainton Dolby, Madame 
Norman Neruda, Henry Leslie, Blumenthal, Frederic Clay, 
Arthur Sullivan, Corney Grain, Henschel, Duvernoy, 
Essipoff, Papini, and (last but not least) John Ella, from 
whom there is a pile of interesting correspondence which 
of itself would fill one of these volumes. 

Actors Sir Henry Irving, Johnston, and Norman Forbes 
Robertson, Wallack, Joseph Jefferson, the Bancrofts, John 
Hare, and Arthur Cecil (Arthur Blunt). 

Of his intimate friends more particular notice w r ill be 
found in the course of this work ; but none, I may say, were 
more beloved by him than Sir John and Lady Constance 
Leslie, and Mr. and Mrs. Perugini. 

Nor must I pass over here the distinguished Spanish 
artist Fortuny, for whom Millais had a great regard. They 
met in Paris in 1867, and during his subsequent visits to 
England Fortuny was always a w r elcome guest at Cromwell 


Place. In Rome, where he finally settled, his most intimate 
friend was D'Epine, the famous sculptor, whose pathetic 
letter announcing his death discloses at once the character 
of both the sculptor and his friend. 


" ROME, 

" Sunday, November 22nd, 1874. 

" MY DEAR MILLAIS, I write quickly two words to tell 
you that our poor friend and great artist Fortuny is dead ! 
It is like a brother I have lost! Since twelve years I used 
to see him every day nearly. 

" Last Sunday he was well. I passed all the day at his 
studio, where he was showing to me his lovely studies from 
Portia, near Naples, where he spent all the summer ; and 
to-day he is cold ! 

"I write with tears in my eyes! What a loss for Art, 
for his friends, for his family, for his country! It is a public 
mourning. Send a word to Leighton to tell him this sad 
news. I have not the courage to tell you more. 

"He died (in five days!) from a perniciosa fever he took, 
working in his garden. His doctor saw nothing, except 
yesterday morning, when only quinine was given to him. 

"Yesterday, at three, he shook hands with me, saying, 
' My poor D'Epine, I feel I am lost ! ' He died two hours 
after ! 

" Now is gone one of the most extraordinary artists of 
this century the chief of a new school, a good friend, a 
man full of life and hope. 

" I tear like a boy, writing these lines. I have been happy 
enough to make his bust eighteen months ago ! I send a 
photograph of it to you. You can send it to the Graphic 
or Ilhistrated London News if you wish. I authorise them 
to publish it if they think proper. It is, I think, the only 
portrait existing of him ! 

" Your friend, 

" D'EPINE." 

Among Millais' distant friends were also Luder Barnay, 
the famous actor in German opera, and Jan van Beers, the 
celebrated French painter, from whom he received the follow- 
ing letters. Barnay's missive being the first English letter he 


ever penned, it is not surprising to find in it some reminis- 
cence of " English as she is spoke." The letter is dated 
June 1 7th, 1881 : 

From Herr Luder Barnay. 

" DEAR FRIEND AND GREAT ARTISTE, I have promised to 
send our repertoire. 

June 23rd . . 'Jules Cesar.' 

2 5 th . . ' Wolhlm Tell.' 

M 2 7 tn it- 

,, 3Oth . . ' Jules C^sar.' 

"This were the first words in English language which I 
read. I hope that the God of England you helpe to under- 
stand it. " Believe me, 

" Dear friend, 

" Your sincereli, 


From M. Jan van Beers. 


" MON CHER MAITRE, Je n'ai pas perdu pour attendre ! 
The engraving is very fine and artistic, and the de'dicace is 
so kind and nice that I feel quite proud and happy to have 
that sweet souvenir of you. There are plenty of painters, 
but great poets in painting are extremely rare, and I consider 
you as the great poet-painter of our time. 

" So you see why I am so happy with that engraving of 
that Shakespearian picture, which tells the same tale as 
Hamlet's famous scene of the graveyard. 

" When you come to Paris I shall be delighted to expect 
you in my new house, which will only be entirely finished 
in November. I hear with great pleasure your health is 
much better now. 

"With many thanks and best wishes for your happiness, 
believe me, " Respectfully yours, 


" I shall send you the little smiling lady ; but as I have 
only one small proof (I promised to Mr. Aird, our friend, 
not to have the picture reproduced) I shall have it copied 
for you." 

By permission 01 Thomas Agfiew ana Sons 


And now to friends at home who yet remain to be intro- 
duced. Amongst them was a young artist named Jopling, a 
man of considerable talent, whose progress in his profession 
was hindered only by his habitual laissez-faire and an in- 
ordinate love of amusement. He was extremely good- 
natured, and blessed with a sunny temperament that infected 
all with whom he came into contact. It was not long, 
therefore, after their first meeting in 1854 that Millais and 
he became firm friends, and when, in 1860 and 1861, they 
were both living in London, they saw a good deal of each 


other. Anxious to encourage him in his work, Millais com- 
mended him to his friends, and frequently got commissions- 
for him; but "Joe" (as he was always called) had other 
demands upon his time, and in his happy, careless way he 
attended to them rather than to the real business of his life. 
He was a first-rate rifle shot, a member of the English 
eight, and at Wimbledon in 1861 he won the Queen's Prize 
as the best marksman of the year. It was his success in 
this direction that Millais refers to in the following letter : 

To Mr. Joseph fopling. 


"July 12th, 1 86 1. 

" MY DEAR JOPLING. I feel bound to confess myself in 
error when I said you would come to ' no good,' and that 
I have not respected your wifle* qualities as I should have 
done. My sincere congratulations, in which Mrs. M. begs 
to join. I saw your chances in the competition increas- 
ing, as I looked daily at the paper, but no more thought you 
would get the prize than you did yourself. 

"All yesterday I was out fishing with my two sisters-in-law 

* Mr. Jopling's R's were all W's. 


and a party, but with no success, it was so terribly stormy. 
Do you think now of coming North ? If so, come soon 
before I return. I am going to work at my pictures at once, 
and was very glad to see my children again. 

" Do you get a cup from the Queen, and 260 ? What 
a handsome centre-piece for Mrs. J. to smile upon during the 
matrimonial dinner parties ! Now you must get married to 
an heiress. Don I lose time. 

" Ever yours sincerely, 


" Don't forget Chapman and Hall in your prosperity. I 
remember your hitting 'Aunt Sally' three times running at 
Mike's [Michael Halliday's] long range. 

"(Postscript by Mrs. Millais.) Best congratulations. If 
you come North we shall be very glad to see you. Yours 
truly, E. M." 

In 1873 Joseph Jopling married the lady whose work 
and personality are now so well known in the Art world 
of London. Millais saw her for the first time in November 
of that year, and wrote at once from St. Mary's Tower : 
"DEAR JOE, I thought when I left you you were a 'gone 
coon.' I think she is very charming, and some people will 
say, a great deal too good for you. ..." 

For many years after that Mr. and Mrs. Jopling were 
constant visitors at Cromwell Place and Palace Gate, and 
many were the pleasant evenings we had when Joe and his 
clever wife dined with us en famille. 

In 1874 came another letter to Jopling, inviting him to 
Scotland, where Millais was then painting "Over the Hills 
and Far Away." 

To the same. 


" September, \ 874. 

" DEAR JOE, I am working now so hard that I am never 
at home. My place of work is four miles away, and I am 
working at other things outside. All the children, except 
George, have gone South ; but we have still plenty of 
young people here, as my brother is with us, and his wife, 
three children, and servants, Mr. and Mrs. Gray, etc., etc. 
George, who is here, caught a beautiful clean salmon yester- 


day, of 20 J Ibs. He is going to prepare for Cambridge, and 
after that the Bar. 

"It has been very hard for me to work, with everyone 
about me idle, but now I must buckle to in earnest. 

" My wife manages all arrangements of visitors, so she 
appends directions. We have had Sir W. Harcourt and 
James here, and I dined at Lord J. Manners', and met 
Disraeli, who is charming. Plenty of game here, and a good 
billiard-table, which we squabble over. Give my regards 
to your wife, and kind remembrances to Sir C. and Lady 
Lindsay, whom I would come over and see if it wasn't such 
a tiresome journey. 

" Yours very sincerely, 


In 1879 Millais painted a portrait of Mrs. Jopling one 
of the finest that ever came from his brush. It was most 
favourably noticed in the Press, and to that circumstance 
may perhaps be attributed the following letter to the artist 
from a stranger one Mr. George R. : " SIR, May I 
trouble you to tell me if you could undertake to paint two 
likenesses from the enclosed photographs ? I should like 
them done in oil-paint, on copper, if you recommend that 
style. I have some others done in that way. I should be 
glad to know your charge for the same. The portraits would 
have to be painted entirely from the photographs, as it 
would not be convenient for us otherwise, and I may alsa 
state that having a large family to bring up, I hope the 
expense will not be very great." 

What Millais thought of this may be gathered from his 
letter to Mr. Jopling, who, it must be added, was at that 
time laid up with an ailment affecting his legs. 

To Mr. Jopling. 


" July 22nd, 1880. 

" DEAR JOE, I have just recommended your wife, in 
answer to the enclosed [the letter from Mr. George R.], 
so if you hear from the writer you will understand. What 
maniacs there are in the world ! 

" I hope, old boy, you will be soon about again. I shall be 
working on here for some time yet. Got your letter last 


night. Had already read poetry in World [some lines on 
Mrs. Jopling's portrait, entitled 'A Portrait by Millais'], and 
did not quite understand. Lunch is announced, so I must 
0. This only to show that I am not insensible to your 
poor legs. 

" Yours sincerely, 


In the following year Mr. Jopling's health unfortunately 
gave way so far as to incapacitate him from serious work as 
an artist. Some lighter occupation must therefore be found 
for him, and mainly through Millais' instrumentality this was 
.secured in the Fine Arts Society. As soon as Jopling had 
obtained the post he organised a small exhibition of Millais' 
paintings, which was held in the Bond Street rooms in 1881. 
In connection with this Millais wrote : 

To Mr. Jopling. 


"March tfh, 1881. 

" DEAR JOE, I have a great objection to the introduction 
of other works of mine into the exhibition, unless it is 
positively necessary. I will write to Mr. Graham myself, 
rather than ' The Vale of Rest ' should leave ; and * New- 
laid Eggs' must not be put into the Gallery. Time enough 
if another set of my works be shown. I cannot say when I 
can begin Tennyson [a portrait of Tennyson that he was 
commissioned to paint], I am so fully occupied. I cannot 
scamp work, and unless I can do justice to the subject, I am 
not going to undertake anything new. The public would be 
the first to cry out against me. 

" Lord Beaconsfield comes on Tuesday and Wednesday, 
and I have promised Sir H. Thompson to begin without loss 

of time. I don't want to hear what old X says or thinks 

of my work. He has got up one unsuccessful Art Exhibition 
-after another, and I daresay is growling, albeit he has done 
good service at - 

" Yours sincerely, 

"I am very tired and want quiet." 

By permission of Thomas Agnnu and Sons 


The following letters to Mrs. Jopling are characteristic. 
In June, 1881, she lost her eldest son, Percy Romer, and in 
December, 1889, her husband was also taken from her. 

To Mrs. Jopling. 


"June 5///, 1 88 1. 

" DEAR MRS. JOPLING, Sophy tells me you would like a 
line from me. What to say, more than that you have been 
in my thoughts ? 

" When George [Millais' second son] died, I felt grateful 
for my work. Get you as soon as possible to your easel, as 
the surest means not to forget, but to occupy your mind 
wholesomely and even happily. 

" Yours affectionately, 


Another artist who was frequently at Cornwall Place was 
Henry O'Neil, R.A., an intimate friend of both Millais and 
Phillip, and a painter of pictures that seldom failed to catch 
the fancy of the public. He was a martyr to gout and some- 
what choleric, but withal a most kind-hearted man. A 
philanthropist, too, in his way one of the Old Club type 
and not without some pretension as a poet. Indeed, much 
of his leisure time must have been spent in the writing of 
verses ; for he was constantly sending them to Millais or his 
wife with a quaint little note, such as this : " I send you my 
latest song I hope not the worst. I get yearly the first 
primrose from a maiden aged seventy, whom for thirty years 
I have reverenced on account of her filial duty. Don't be 
angry with me for not calling. I have not put a shoe on for 
months." This note is dated March, 1876, and the tender 
sentiment of the song enclosed in it strongly appeals to me 
for admission. But I must limit myself to but two specimens 
of O'Neil's muse. 

In quite another vein is the following " Reflection," with 

which he writes : " I have had another note from Froude 

anent Mary Stuart's last words. He thinks I have not made 

her defiant. I never yet heard of defiance on the bed of 

i. 28 


death. In the picture I am painting of Mary at Loch Leven, 
there shall be no want of defiance." 


" In Youth, I wandered over Westbourne Plain, 
And fed my eye on buttercups and daisies. 

In Age, I wander on the path again : 

Daisies and buttercups are gone to blazes, 

And, in their stead, I see a beastly lot 
Of stucco villas built upon the spot. 

" Thus marches ' Progress ' ever to destroy 
(From what is called ' Necessity ') all things 

That from their very nature gave us joy. 

And the said cursed ' Progress ' never brings 

The pleasure which, once felt, can come no more. 
'Tis easy to destroy. But how restore ? " 

O'Neil was fond of cards, in which Millais occasionally 
joined him at the Garrick Club. He refers to this in an 
amusing squib on sprats, from which I subjoin a few stanzas. 


" A wealthy man prefers a Severn Salmon ; 

The poor man is content with humble Sprats. 
To one, aught but Champagne is simply gammon ; 

The other is content with Barclay's vats. 
Except that one is cheap and t'other dear, 
What special virtue has Champagne o'er Beer ? 

" In my young days two guineas I have spent 

On models to produce a priceless gerri. 
To gilder's hands another guinea went. 

I looked to connoisseurs for gain. Drat them ! 
For when I 'd done the utmost I could do, 
I sold my priceless gem for two pounds two. 

" That, as the Proverb says, may be as bad 

As baiting herring just to catch a sprat : 
But in the process there was nothing bad : 

I lost a guinea, and don't care for that. 
Making a fortune has not been my forte, 
And men must pay a trifle for their sport. 

" Poor I have been, and poor shall ever be, 

Whilst Millais plays with me at 'Fifteen two.' 
Champagne and Hock have little charm for me, 
Nor Bass, nor Barclay can my stomach woo ; 
So I rely on Leotia's whiskey dairies, 
And tone their potence by Apollinaris. 


" St. Peter was a fisherman, 'tis said, 

And no doubt fond of fish ; but yet the Sprat 
Judaea's lakes tried not, nor Sea called ' Dead.' 

I think there 's something to be made of that ; 
For when I 'm dead, with Peter I '11 be even, 
And, with a Sprat for fee, sneak into Heaven." 

Fred Walker, the famous artist (now, alas, no more), was 
also a most intimate friend of Millais, and beloved by all the 
family ; as well he might be, for he was the very soul of 
goodness and human sympathy. Unhappily for himself, he 
was so sensitive that an adverse word from the critics would 
crush him to the ground. In my father's estimation he was 
the finest water-colour painter of the century, a genius of 
the highest order, intensely alive to the poetry of Nature, 
and supreme in his power of expressing it ; and now that 
he is gone the whole world seems disposed to share this 
sentiment. His favourite amusement was fishing, and 
during the seventies, when he was a frequent visitor at 
Perth, this was his great delight. It was at Stobhall that, 
under my father's guidance, he first became acquainted 
with the salmon ; and a bad time he had of it upon one 
occasion. While fishing off a rock, he got hold of a real 
big one, and was so wildly excited that he fell head over 
ears into the water, and would probably have been drowned 
but for a timely rescue. My aunt, Mrs. Stibbard, has a 
delightful drawing by him, illustrating "The Temptation of 
St. Anthony Walker." 

Again, when deep-dea fishing at St. Andrews, he had a 
narrow escape from drowning. He was in a boat with 
Millais and his family, and about two miles from the shore, 
when a gale suddenly sprang up and drifted them towards 
dangerous rocks. Having no sail, their only chance of 
escape was to pull for their lives through these two miles 
of raging sea ; and they did it, though the hard work took 
the skin off poor Walker's hands, and he was quite ex- 
hausted when they reached the harbour. Habitually nervous 
as he was, on this occasion he never for a moment lost his 

Then there was Owen, simplest of men and most learned 
of comparative anatomists "dear old Owen," as we used 
to call him, and rightly so, for he was a friend of the whole 
family, and his kindness to the younger members could 
hardly have been greater if they had been his own children. 


Many a time did he take my brothers and myself to the 
big museum in Bloomsbury, and discourse to us on subjects 
that caught our fancy, making even dry old bones live 
again under the spell of his marvellous revelations. In 
his own house, too, at Richmond, he made us heartily 
welcome whenever we chose to go. It was after one of 
our visits there that this charming letter of his was sent to 
my mother : 

From Professor Oiuen. 


"December 22nd, 1869. 

" DEAR MRS. MILLAIS, To whom can one open one's heart 
but to the young and guileless ? At least in my den here, 
where I study so many and such varieties of natures, 
affected by time and the battle of life. Ah ! it will come 
quite soon enough upon them, the dear lads ! 

" Well, I 'm glad they felt that I wanted to make their 
visit profitable. But they must be up in their ' Seven 
Wonders' when they next put in an appearance. 

"We have had our share of weather damage, and 
Caroline is now laid up with her cold ; but I must have 
laid such a healthy layer of ' epithelial scales : on my bron- 
chial tubes in Egypt that I repelled the first attack of frost 

" With every good wish to Millais and yourself and all 
those about your Christmas hearth, 

" I remain, always truly yours, 

" RICHARD Owi.x." 

And finally Browning, musician and poet "the most 
unpopular poet that ever was," as he describes himself in 
one of his letters, and yet a singer of so high a merit that 
a special cult is now devoted to the study and dissemination 
of his works. It was early in 1862 shortly after the death 
of his wife (Elizabeth Barrett Browning), who, like himself, 
was a distinguished poet that Millais and he first came 
together ; and, as might be expected of two such congenial 
spirits, their acquaintance speedily ripened into a firm and 
lasting friendship. 

MRS. HEUGH. 1872 
By permission of Mr J. Orrock 


The two following letters will, I think, be read with interest 
now that both the writer and those whom he addressed have 
passed away for ever. Browning's views on the art of 
poetry, as expressed in the first of these letters, were called 
forth by a letter from my mother, who submitted for his 
opinion and advice a poem by a young friend of hers, who 
had some thought of a literary career. The second letter, 
too, demands a word of explanation. Browning's son, Penn, 
having determined to follow Art as a profession, my father, 
who took great interest in the boy, gave him all the help in 
his power, and (I trust I am betraying no secret in saying 
this) considerably improved his first picture. 

From Robert Broivning. 



"January *jth, 1867. 

"DEAR MRS. MILLAIS, I hardly know what to advise 
about the poems. All depends on the state of development 
in which the writer's mind may be ; because, if these pieces 
were ultimates, so to speak, and the productions of maturity, 
one would have to say that in Poetry, by ancient prescript, 
only the best is bearable, and these are not best in any salient 
point of originality, thought, or expression. On the other 
hand, if they are the beginnings, really and truly, of the 
author, I could hope for a good deal in the end from the very 
imperfections of what is given here. There is a distinct 
conception in each piece something the writer had in mind 
to say before beginning and the working-out of the same 
has been a matter of less importance. There is not the 
usual iising iip of the effect produced by a sympathy with 
somebody else's poetry, which people suppose to be a spon- 
taneous effect of their own minds, and treat accordingly. 
Above all, there is not the usual singing away till, perad- 
venture, some thought or other turn up in the course of it ; 
that is, the thought suggests the tune, not the tune the 
thought. But there is hardly more than the impulse toward 
the right direction, I think not any so positive excellence as 
to make one cry that the mark is hit, unless, perhaps, in some 
of the capital verses for children, ' The Baby House,' for 


" All this means only that I am certain that the writer is 
too poetically-minded a person (let the worst come to the 
worst) to be consigned to any rank below that of the strivers 
after the best ; and those who only want to be better than 
this, or no worse than that of the hundreds of rhyme -makers 
'going,' might honestly be complimented on the prettiness of 
such a performance. But wherever there is a chance of 
getting a bird of the true sort, one finds the heart to say, 
' Don't twitter, though all the sparrows do, but sing,' since 
such things happen sometimes, and then we get a lark or a 
nightingale, or even an owl, which last is by no means to be 
despised. Moreover, you here have the opinion of the most 
unpopular poet that ever was, and so will be sure not to 
mind too much the sour sayings of the like of him ! If the 
writer continues to feel and think as earnestly as now, and 
lets the feeling and thought take the words and music they 
immediately suggest, just as if the experiment of expression 
were being tried for the first time, not neglecting meanwhile 
the mechanical helps to this in the way of proper studies both 
of Nature and Art, as well as the secret of the effectiveness 
of whatever poetry does affect the said author (not repeating 
nor copying those 'effects,' but finding out, I mean, why 
they prove to be effects, and so learning how to become 
similarly effective), I don't see why success might not be 
hoped for ; and then it is success worth getting. 

" There, my dear Mrs. Millais ! Could one but help any- 
body never so infinitesimally ! I give true good wishes to the 
author, in any case. Very faithfully yours, 


From the same. 


"May iQth, 1878. 

" MY BELOVED MILLAIS, You will be gladdened in the 
kind heart of you to learn that Penn's picture has been bought 
by Mr. Fielder a perfect stranger to both of us. You 
know what your share has been in his success, and it cannot 
but do a world of good to a young fellow whose fault was 
never that of being insensible to an obligation. 
" Ever affectionately yours, 


By permission o> Mrs. Jot>ling-Rowe 


Browning, needless to say, was always a welcome guest at 
Palace Gate, and when the occasion called for it no one 
enjoyed more than he any bit of nonsense that might arise. 
One evening after dinner the guests amused themselves by 
trying who could get the most words into a given space with 
some old stumps of pens that Millais had cast aside as 
useless, when Browning produced the following as the re- 
sult of his effort : 

" I sprang to the stirrup, and Joris and he ; 
I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three. 
' God-speed ! ' cried the gate as the gate-bolts undrew, 
' Speed ! ' echoed the wall to us, galloping through. 

Then the (illegible} 

As into the midnight we galloped abreast. 

"ROBERT BROWNING, June 4///, 1882." 

And here, I think, may be fitly introduced a paper by- 
Mrs. Jopling now Mrs. Jopling-Rowe which, with her 
habitual kindness and consideration, she has sent me as 
a contribution to this work. It is entitled 


"The first time I saw John Everett Millais was at one 
of the private views of the old masters at Burlington House. 
I was walking with a mutual friend. ' Here comes Millais,' 
he said. You can imagine my excitement. I stared with 
all my eyes. My friend said, ' Good show of old masters ! ' 
' Old masters be bothered ! I prefer looking at the young 
mistresses!' said Millais, with a humorous glance at me 
as he walked off. My companion roared with laughter. 
' There is only Johnny Millais who would dare to make a 
remark like that ! ' 

" I remember his telling me an incident that happened 
to himself. He was dining out, and, of course, sitting next 
the hostess. On his right was a charming Society woman, 
who evidently had not caught his name when he was intro- 
duced to her, for she presently, during a pause, started the 
usual subject of conversation in May the Academy. ' Isn't 
Millais too dreadful this year ? ' And then, seeing the 
agonised contortions on her hostess's countenance, she said, 
' Oh, do tell me what I 've done. Look at Mrs. - 's face 1 
I must have said or done something terrible.' ' Well,' 
laughed Millais, 'you really have, you know.' 'Oh, please,. 


tell me.' ' Better nerve yourself to hear. Drink this glass 
of sherry first.' ' Yes, yes ; now what is it ? ' For answer 
Millais said nothing, but, looking at her, pointed solemnly 
to himself. When it dawned upon her who her neighbour 
was, she was spared any confusion by Millais' hearty laughter 
at her mal-a-propos speech. 

"Millais was godfather to my boy, and Sir Coutts Lind- 
say was the other one. We had registered the infant as 
' Everett Millais Lindsay.' I was not present at the 
christening, but when he and my husband came back to 
the house, he said to me, ' Look here, Mrs. Joe, we have 
called the boy ' Lindsay Millais.' It will be so much nicer 
when he is in love, for his girl to call him Lindsay. Lindsay 
is so much softer than Everett, don't you think so ? ' I 
only thought it was like the modest delicacy of the man, who 
hated, even in a trifle like this, to be prominently put before 
anyone else. 

" For many years he came every year to criticise the work 
we were sending in to the Academy, and no man in the 
world has ever given such frank, truthful, and kindly 
criticism. ' Yes, yes, very good ; but And the ' but ' 

was invaluable. Then it was, ' Haven't you got any more 
work ? I like to see lots, you know ! ' 

" In the same way he accepted criticism on his own work 
frankly, heartily, and gratefully. ' Oh ! a fresh eye is the 
thing. Now, tell me, is there anything else you see ? ' 

"Ah, what a genius what a man! And what delightful 
moments were those spent on Sunday morning in his 
studio, when he welcomed any artistic friend. After talking 
pictures, he would always say, ' Well, what's the news ? ' 
He loved to hear news of his friends ; and, unlike most 
traffickers of news, he never said or thought an ill-natured 
thing of any living soul. He always recognised the good 
points of his friends as he would the beauties of Nature. 

" When he made a joke one saw it coming in the humorous 
twinkle his eye gave forth, as when he said to me when 
he was painting my portrait, ' Ah, my godson ! I never 
gave him a cup at his christening, so I '11 give him the 
"mug" of his mother now.' 

" He painted my portrait in the extraordinary short time 
of five sittings. In his generous way he wished to divide 
the credit. ' Ah, it takes a good sitter to make a good 
portrait. If you had not sat so well, I shouldn't have made 


such a good thing of it, but ' then he would laugh ' I 
nearly killed you, you know ! ' For the five consecutive 
days' standing had really knocked me up. 

" The Princess of Wales said to him once, whilst looking 
at several pictures in his studio, ' I wonder you can bear 
to part with them, Mr. Millais.' 'Oh, ma'am,' answered 
Millais, ' w r hen I finish a picture, I am just like a hen having 
laid an egg ; I cry, " Come and take it away ! come and 
take it away ! " And then I start upon another picture.' 

'' The Royal Family were most sympathetic to him in his 
last illness. I remember coming away from seeing him one 
day, after having had a one-sided conversation with him I 
talking and he responding on the slate he had to use when 
his voice failed him. A thought struck me that it seemed a 
pity to erase the last sayings of so rare a being. I was due 
at a sale of work at the Royal School of Art Needlework, 
and at Princess Christian's stall I looked about for an 
appropriate note-book, which might in after days be held 
precious to those (and there were many) who loved John 
Millais. On making my want known to the Princess, she 
immediately said, ' Oh ! let me give it him. I should like to- 
so much ! ' I asked her to write her name in it, which she 
immediately did, and I took it back to the dear patient. 

" He was most true in his appreciation of other men's work, 
and preferred that which was very highly finished. I think 
he bought an example of Tito Contis simply for the reason of 
its high finish. He was a great admirer of Mr. Marcus 
Stone's work. I never once heard him disparage another 
man's work. If he had nothing good to say about it, he said 
nothing. He was always delighted to come across anyone 
who had a love of Art. Even young children or rank out- 
siders he would notice. After a visit from them, he would 
say, ' Ah ! I noticed So-and-so had quite intelligent views 
about Art. He must be fond of pictures.' 

" His power of aptly illustrating his meaning was unsur- 
passed. When I started my School of Art I consulted with Sir 
John about it, and asked his opinion as to whether it would be 
a good thing to teach by 'demonstration,' i.e., to paint a 
head from the model in one sitting before the pupils. ' Why 
of course,' said Millais, 'that is the best way. If I wanted 
to teach a man how to play billiards, I wouldn't correct each 
stroke he made ; I would take the cue myself and show him 
how to hit the ball.' " L. JopLixo-RowE." 


A little reminiscence of sport a la Fran$aise may fitly 
conclude this desultory chapter. In the early seventies 
Millais and his wife were staying with Baron Marochetti at 
his place, the Chateau de Vaux, near Passy a fine old castle 
in admirable preservation that recalled, as my mother used to 
say, " Four grey walls and four grey towers overlooking a 
space of flowers." Knowing Millais' love of sport, the Baron 
got up a shooting-party for him, aided by his eldest son, 
Maurice, now the Italian Ambassador to Russia. 

Early in the morning the whole house was awakened with 
the tootling of horns and the barking of dogs ; and greatly 
-amused were the guests when, on going to the windows, they 
discovered the meaning of this excitement. It was all in 
honour of " Brer Rabbit." Ferrets had already paid him a 
visit, and now he was to be waited on by the owner of the 
castle and his friends, who were at that moment assembled 
in the courtyard, attired in gorgeous Lincoln-green coats, 
high boots with tassels, slouch hats with feathers, and every 
man of them with a huge curly horn slung on his back, to 
say nothing of a cartridge-belt and a gun. 

At the appointed time, when everyone was down and had 
breakfasted, the party adjourned to the scene of action. Each 
sportsman was provided with a kitchen chair at the position 
Javorable, and there he sat and awaited his prey. Then 
bang went the gun, and if successful the gunner proclaimed 
the fact by a performance on his horn. Such is (or was) 
""sport," as translated into French. Vive la chasse! 




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